They say life isn’t fair, and nobody would fault 17-year-old STMA senior Elli Hofmeister for wallowing in the unfairness of it all sometimes. But that’s not Elli’s way. At age 13 she was diagnosed with Juvenile Huntington’s Disorder, which results in a progressive loss of cognitive ability and physical control, but no matter the obstacles she faces, Elli keeps smiling. She loves school, cheering on the Knights at Friday night football games and being with her family and friends.
“She’s always so happy and positive, she’s never down or depressed, and it’s all because of the community being there for her and supporting her,” Elli’s mom, Camille Tulenchik, said.
One of Elli’s biggest reasons to smile is coming up this Saturday, Sept. 26: the third annual All for Elli kickball tournament, carnival and fundraiser. This is the tournament’s final year, and organizers say the event will be even bigger than last year, with carnival games, face painting, fair hair, bounce houses, gerbil balls, a silent auction, raffle and food. Kickball games will go on all day long and the carnival activities will take place from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at the St. Michael Recreation Center, located off Lander Ave. adjacent to the Crow River.
“Elli absolutely loves the fundraisers,” Tulenchik said. “They are the happiest days of her life, she just looks forward to them.”
Funds raised on Saturday will go toward making modifications to Elli’s home to keep her safe, pay for medical expenses not covered by insurance, contribute to research studies looking for a cure for Juvenile Huntington’s Disease and to fulfill some of Elli’s dreams, which currently include wishing to spend a day with teen pop singer and songwriter Austin Mahone and to see Paris, the fashion capital of the world, since she has long dreamed of becoming a fashion designer. Tulenchick said one of these wishes might come true, as she is currently in the process of becoming a recipient of the Make a Wish Foundation.
While all these things are helpful for Elli, Tulenchik said the All for Elli fundraiser really isn’t about the money for any of them.
“It’s just about having all these people come there to support her and love her,” she said.