Gilroy Track Star to Represent Shriners Hospitals for Children at PGA Tour Tournament in Las Vegas October 5-6


A girl with a prosthetic leg and a doctor

Ella Rae Rodriguez, 15, will have the experience of a lifetime when she represents Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas October 5 and 6.

Ella, a sophomore at Christopher High School in Gilroy, Calif., is one of 22 patient ambassadors throughout the country chosen to represent the Shriners Hospital network at the PGA tournament. Ella will serve as a standard-bearer for the final rounds of play, carrying the scores of a group of professional golfers as they compete in the nationally televised tournament. It is a rare “inside the ropes” opportunity to participate in a PGA Tour event, as well as the chance to share how the care provided by Shriners Hospitals for Children has positively impacted her life.

“I am honored to have this opportunity to represent Shriners Hospitals for Children at this national event and walk the course with some of the greatest golfers of our time,” says Ella. “I have been involved in sports for many years, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for those who are at the top of their field and earned the privilege of competing in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. “I am extremely grateful for the care I have received at the Northern California Shriners Hospital in Sacramento. The chance to meet patients from other Shriners Hospitals and learning about their challenges and successes really means a lot to me,” Ella adds.

Ella running on her prosthetic leg

Born with Fibular Hemimelia, a congenital birth disorder resulting on one leg being shorter than the other, Ella was just four months old when she made her first visit to the Shriners Hospital in Sacramento. Her parents consulted with many doctors near their home near San Jose, and they were encouraged to take their baby daughter to Shriners Hospitals for Children. Ella was 9-months old when she had her right foot amputated, and she took her first steps on a prosthesis designed by Shriners Hospital specialists.

Under the care of Orthopaedic Surgeon Joel Lerman, M.D., Ella has pursued her passion for sports. She plays wheelchair basketball and is on her high school Track & Field Team. She competes in several track and field events including the javelin, shot put, discus and 100- and 20-meter races. A high-school cheerleader, Ella is on the sidelines cheering for her classmates when she is on the field competing herself.

Ella’s mother Susan says, “The Shriners Hospital staff have guided us through raising an active and adjusted child with a disability. They have supported us through the amputation, surgeries and many, many prosthetic appointments. They have treated the whole patient — not just the disability — putting her emotional and physical well-being as a top priority. The Shriners Hospital approach to treatment is the reason for our success.”

Ella will be featured in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open tournament program, and her story will be shared with the Golf Channel, which will televise the tournament nationally. The broadcast reaches over 700 million homes across 240 countries worldwide.

“The purpose of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open is to not only bring PGA TOUR golf to Las Vegas, but more importantly, to bring awareness to the great work of Shriners Hospitals for Children,” said Patrick Lindsay, tournament director of the SHC Open. “We thought that bringing more of the hospital’s patients to the tournament and giving them an opportunity to experience some of the best golfers in the world would be a great way to increase the involvement of the hospitals and the patients in this event.”

Ella posing for the camera

About the 2019 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open: The 2019 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open brings the FedExCup to Las Vegas as the PGA TOUR returns to the Las Vegas valley for the 37th consecutive year. Many of the top golfers in the world will participate in the competition and help support the mission of Shriners Hospitals for Children®, November 1-4 at TPC Summerlin. For more information, visit

About Shriners Hospitals for Children

Shriners Hospitals for Children is changing lives every day through innovative pediatric specialty care, world-class research and outstanding medical education. Located at 2425 Stockton Boulevard in Sacramento, Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California is a regional pediatric medical center providing care to children with orthopaedic conditions, spinal cord injuries, burns, cleft lip, scars from any cause, gastro-intestinal diseases, ano-rectal disorders, chest wall malformations and other complex surgical needs. It is one of 22 facilities in the Shriners Hospitals for Children network. Admission is based on age and diagnosis. Care is provided regardless of the families’ ability to pay. Shriners Hospitals for Children is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and relies on the generosity of donors. All donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent permitted by law. For further information call (916) 453-2000.

Media Contact: Catherine Curran | Director, Public Relations | 916-453-2218 |