Mary Ellie Homann’s soaring voice has lifted her, at 14, over enough obstacles for two lifetimes.
Born prematurely at 4.5 pounds, Ellie had clubbed feet and hands bound into tiny fists by ambiotic constriction band syndrome. With dozens of surgeries and other medical procedures behind her, she leads an active, purposeful life.
Ellie lives and dreams big. With a little help, she could take her lyrical voice to two world-famous venues this summer, singing at Carnegie Hall in New York City and the Festival Hall in London, England.
In both cities, she will perform with a youth choir, as well as take in major attractions, learning about the history and art of two of the world’s great cities.
It’s a long way from East Texas, but Ellie’s journey is just beginning. If anything could compensate for the pain she has endured, it would be her blossoming vocal talent.
When Ellie started singing at 13, “it was like the heavens opened,” said Ellie’s mom, Kim Homann. Since then, this shy, introverted girl has been singing nonstop – with friends at school, at home, in the junior high choir, and practically anywhere she breathes.
Even before Ellie's revelation, music teachers noticed her vocal talents and encouraged them. Music teacher Julie Bell at A.M. Story Elementary and choir teacher Leslie Hooe at Palestine Junior High devoted their time to work with Ellie individually.
In an interview, Hooe described Ellie's voice as “light and lyrical,” in the high soprano range. On sheer talent, Ellie has the potential to earn scholarships and pursue a career in music, Hooe said. In addition, she possesses an intangible that often separates the good from the great: A burning desire and dedication to improve. She practices hard and views criticism as an opportunity to grow and get better.
Ellie's surgeries, procedures, casts, and braces have enabled her to attend school and participate in other activities: She can walk, run, type, and write.
To her parents, Brian and Kim Homann of Palestine, everything about Ellie is special. Other teens might be embarrassed by the shape of her hands, but Ellie takes her friends and acquaintances aside and explains the clinical reasons her hands are unique.
“Ellie thinks everyone is her friend,” Kim Homann said.
Ellie’s parents have helped her get the best medical care; they think the surgeries and procedures have fostered her social maturity, as well as her physical abilities.
The Homann family has made frequent trips to Scottish Rite Hospital in Plano, where Ellie continues to undergo orthopedic surgeries and physical therapies.
An independent contractor who remodels homes, Brian adjusts his schedule to accompany his family during hospital stays. He plans to accompany Ellie on her trips to New York and London. Kim, a school bus driver of 20 years, is recovering from a leg injury; she will stay home with their 13-year-old son.
Even so, the cost of both trips – $14,000 – is beyond the family's means. Ellie’s parents are diligently raising funds with raffles, concert appearances, and performances.
Members of the audience at last month’s Dogwood Jamboree contributed more than $2,000 toward Ellie’s dream of performing in New York and London. The Homan family expressed their deep gratitude.
Ellie will perform at the Dogwood Jamboree June 15.
When she was a toddler, her mom and dad decided whether to go ahead with recommended surgeries. Now Ellie’s parents encourage her to make her own decisions.
Ellie still wears a small brace on her foot. After her travels this summer, she will endure another procedure on her hands.
For now, though, Ellie looks forward to living a dream.
If you’d like to donate to Ellie’s travels and performances, please contact Brian Homann at 903-373-7865, or search for “Help Mary Eleanor Homann go to New York and London” at GoFundMe.com.