On Sunday, before the first pitch of the baseball game between UH and Loyola Marymount, a pint-sized, blonde haired girl named Ella took to the field at Les Murakami stadium surrounded by her family.
Ella isn’t just a huge fan of the Rainbow Warriors. She’s actually a Warrior herself — one who received a magical surprise Sunday afternoon in Manoa.
“You’re going to Disney World!” rang out over the speakers after Ella and her family crowded around home plate.
It was obvious that the reality of the situation didn't hit the 9-year-old immediately. She looked confused before the excitement was visible on her face and her mom explained to her just exactly what was going on.
“I was very excited,” Ella said, still hardly able to verbalize her happiness well after the announcement was made.
Ella was excited because she wants to meet Mickey and Minnie, but also because the surprise came along with a day at the ball park.
For years, the Rainbow Warriors have been a part of Ella’s life and. And recently, the Warriors have also become a part of her recovery.
Her family has long been season ticket holders – and she’s become one of the team’s biggest fans.
But when she was faced with the prospect of multiple brain surgeries last December after being diagnosed with the brain cancer the roles reversed, and the Warriors became one of her sources of support.
“You know my husband did most of the communications when Ella was in the hospital," said Ella's mom, Jena Otto.
"I was having a really hard time. I was trying to focus on her. But I know he did get in contact with coach Trap and the next thing you know we did have UH players in our room. She was super excited.”
The Rainbow Warriors provided Ella and her family with joy and excitement as the then-8-year old underwent two surgeries, each lasting more than 11 hours, to remove a baseball-sized tumor that was sitting on her cerebellum.
But, a warrior herself, Ella’s mom says her daughter was right back to normal once the operations were done. And she was more excited than ever to cheer on her friends and her supporters from the Hawaii Baseball team as she resumes her normal seats in the stands this season.
“Her favorite is Friday nights," Otto added. "She can come on the field after, take pictures, you know she made friends with them on Instagram. It’s an amazing thing. I feel blessed as a parent that my kids have someone like that to look up to and she loves it and now she won’t miss a game.”
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