West Linn teen gives back to organization that helped her throug - KPTV - FOX 12

West Linn teen gives back to organization that helped her through challenging time

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Ella Johansen is determined to raise as much money as possible for Make-A-Wish Oregon. Ella Johansen is determined to raise as much money as possible for Make-A-Wish Oregon.
Through intensive therapy, Ella said she learned how to walk, talk and be herself again after she had a stroke. Through intensive therapy, Ella said she learned how to walk, talk and be herself again after she had a stroke.
WEST LINN, OR (KPTV) -

A West Linn teen is giving back to an organization that helped her family through one of their most challenging times, and she is hoping the people of Portland will help her do it.

Ella Johansen, 13, is determined to raise as much money as possible for Make-A-Wish Oregon and she's doing it by leading her own team in the organization's Walk for Wishes in April.

It's a walk she's inspired to complete for very special reasons.

“Ella had a stroke, she had a bleed on the left side of her brain and it caused her to lose the ability to move her right side,” said mother Erin Johansen.

“I was in a medically induced coma to reduce the swelling in my brain for five days, I couldn’t be talked to or touched,” Ella said. “When I woke up I couldn’t move the right side of my body.”

Family says Ella endured multiple surgeries at that time to stop the bleeding in her brain, and was later diagnosed with a type of cerebrovascular disease. 

“She was in the hospital for 54 days, and you just get in this zone, and you’re just there to maintain and care, and try to figure out, we didn't know what caused her stroke at first, so you’re just in the zone,” said Erin Johansen.  “One moment she’s a happy, healthy kid literally sledding down the hill, and a half hour later she's having a stroke.”

Through intensive therapy, Ella said she learned how to walk, talk and be herself again. In that time, she dreamed about being anywhere but in a doctor’s office.

So, when Make-A-Wish Oregon said they could make that happen, she wished for her entire family to go on a Disney cruise to the Caribbean.

“We just had a great time and it was really relaxing right after my stroke,” Ella said.  “Everyone was really tense before and it was hard adjusting to my new normal.”

“When we were there, I was just so wrapped up in joy. You feel like you’re the only person who matters on the cruise, it was really fun and it gave me confidence again. It was a special treat,” she added.

“It really just gave the five of us the chance to go 'ahhhh,' here we are, we’re here, were healthy, we’re active, we’re on the go, we have each other and we made it,” her mother said. “We made it through this really dark time and that was the biggest power the wish gave us, it gave us the time that we lost.”

Ella said that experience meant so much to her, she wants to make sure other kids battling life-threatening medical conditions get that opportunity too.

She's now leading a team in the organization's Walk for Wishes this year, to raise money for future wishes. And so far, the spirited young teen is the event's top fundraiser.

“It’s a great way to support Make-A-Wish and help kids that have a lot of bad things happen to them,” Ella said. “I would love for other kids to have that relaxing time, or that relief, and just that pure joy with their families.”

Walk for Wishes takes place Saturday, April 16 at Washington Park and the Oregon Zoo. To register go to oregon.wish.org.

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