Gameball Run

Pictured is the Bradford family including (from left) Wyatt, Connor, Jeff, Kelley and (back) Ella Bradford. 

The Morton High School boys’ basketball team and Coach Matt Franks are hosting the eighth annual Gameball Run event to raise money and awareness for Children's Hospital of Illinois (CHOI). Each school in District 709 has selected a Miracle Family to represent the services provided by Children's Hospital and the impact it has on Morton families. To financially support Gameball Run, donate online at Each school is hosting events, with all proceeds going to Children's Hospital of Illinois.

The Miracle Family representing Lettie Brown Elementary School is the Bradford family –Wyatt, Connor, Ella, Jeff and Kelley Bradford. This is their story.

The Bradford family has always supported the Children’s Hospital of Illinois.  “We had sat in waiting rooms supporting family members and friends but, we never envisioned that we would be the ones in need,” said Mrs. Kelley Bradford. Ella Rose Bradford was born almost nine weeks early.  The night Ella was born, the Bradford family faced many challenges.

Ella weighed three pounds, 8 ounces at birth.  Her whole body fit in the palm of Jeff’s hand.  She proved to be a fighter from the start.  Ella spent 20 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Children’s Hospital of Illinois as she needed extra time to grow.  During her time there, she overcame jaundice, learned how to breathe on her own, take deep breaths, and eat without a feeding tube.

After spending a month at CHOI, Ella was able to go home on a heart monitor due to occasional apnea and bradycardia events. The family was enjoying their time at home and watching their baby girl grow. The Bradfords had been home 12 days when Ella’s heart monitor started alarming because her heartrate was too high.  The next day, Kelley got a call from the doctor and he recommended that Ella needed to go back to the hospital for a full work up.  Kelley commented, “My mama heart broke that day at the thought of taking her back to the hospital.  It was a scary and eventful few days at the hospital where Ella had several tachycardia and SVT events.”

 After several tests, the amazing pediatric cardiologist team diagnosed Ella with a heart condition called Wolf Parkinson White Syndrome (WPW).  Ella started taking a beta blocker to keep her heart in rhythm as her veins and heart were too small. Ella responded well to the medicine and thus, able to wait on a more permanent fix.  The Children’s Hospital of Illinois Congenital Heart Center continued to monitor Ella with regular visits and annual tests.  “Ella continued to respond like a rock star,” said Kelley.

However, Ella soon faced one more plunge when she was two months old as her skull bones fused prematurely and was diagnosed with Craniosynostosis.  The amazing pediatric neurosurgeon and plastic surgeon spent months preparing the family for Ella’s big surgery.  At seven months old, Ella’s skull was restructured and would allow her brain to grow and mature.  Kelley commented, “The day was scary and the days after were rough with major swelling and high fevers.  Our amazing doctors made extra trips back to check on her and to make sure she was comfortable and getting all the care she needed.  Our hearts were full as once again, the staff of Children’s Hospital of Illinois gave us top notch care.”


In addition, it was time to finally close the book on WPW Syndrome. In the summer of 2019, Ella’s amazing cardiologist was able to find her extra electrical pathway and freeze it through an electrophysiology study of her heart and a cardiac ablation. Kelley added, “After almost 10 years, Ella has had her first normal EKG in her lifetime.”

“We never dreamt that we would need the Children’s Hospital of Illinois so much,” said Kelly Bradford. “We are so very thankful to have such an amazing hospital so close to home. We are thankful for the doctors, nurses, and support staff of the entire hospital who treated our daughter as their own. We never worried she wasn’t in good hands.  We have much to be thankful for as we look at Ella every day.  We take any opportunity we can to give back to the hospital that has given us so much!!  We proudly support Gameball Run and look forward to the event every year.  Thank you for supporting Morton’s Gameball Run so that the hospital is able to support others, like they have our family!  We are truly blessed!”