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Lauren’s Run & Picnic is getting close, and this year marks a very special anniversary. April 28 will be the 30th time we’ve lined up to run this cherished race. It will also be a special day for a young girl running the 5k for the first time.

When Ella was seven months old, her parents noticed a change in her demeanor and a type of gastric reflux that started suddenly. Doctors put her on a new formula, but she continued struggling to eat and had to be taken to the emergency room. Soon, she was diagnosed with Langerhans cell histiocytosis or LCH.

LCH is a rare, cancer-like condition that forces the body to make too many of a specific type of immune cells. These cells can cluster and form tumors. Ella’s had clustered in her GI tract, blocking the movement of food. As she began her treatment, Ella was hooked up to a pump that delivered nutrition directly to her bloodstream.

“You learn very quickly when you start treatment that you can’t ask questions about the future,” shared Ella’s mother, Allison. “Her doctors didn’t know if she would ever be able to eat or have a normal life. She didn’t learn to eat until she was 18 months old, and her mouth muscles didn’t develop. She had to have intense speech therapy until she was three years old. But she is a picture of resiliency and is now ahead of where she should be developmentally.”

Ella is now eight and in the second grade. She plays soccer and loves to run. She especially loves road races; in fact, her whole family does. She has run the 2k at Lauren’s Run and is excited to do the 5k for the first time this year!

“Growing up, my family liked to run a 5k in Plains, Georgia together. It became our tradition,” Allison said. “My mother is one of seven girls, so our family is large. We’ve all adopted Lauren’s Run as our new family race tradition.”

Ella’s grandmother, Ellen Rose, has spearheaded the team – Cousins for a Cure. On April 28, many of Ella’s cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents will join the fun.

“She absolutely loves the picnic afterward,” Allison added. “She looks forward to the bouncy houses, cake walks, and all of the games. It really is a wonderful day.”

Cousins for a Cure is not only a running team; they are also a fundraising team, and Ella is right in the thick of it. Ever a competitor, she calls her grandmother regularly to see how the team is faring with donations.

Ella would like to invite you to run and picnic with her. Registration is now open for a day filled with excitement and inspiration! The 30th annual Lauren’s Run & Picnic, presented by AutoNation, will be held on April 28 in the shadow of the King and Queen buildings. Following the race, you’ll love the over-the-top picnic featuring delicious food from Chicken Salad Chick, Dunkin’, Jimmy John’s, Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar, and award-winning BBQ from our friends at Duval Semi Trailers.

For more information and to register, visit