Teen swimmer with rare skin condition receiving overwhelming support

MANCHESTER, MO  - Ella Furjes is an inspiration to those around here.  The 15-year-old says she swims 7 days a week and enjoys competing for the Parkway South High School girls swim team.  Furjes has a rare skin condition known as Epidermolysis bullosa.  It results in painful blisters that keep her from being able to stand on her feet.

Ella has a wheelchair but prefers walking on her knees.  During swim competitions, she jumps from her knees.  Her mother says Ella has been told she must stand to comply with state competition rules.  Ella’s teammates have offered to jump from their knees in a show of support, even though that would cause the team to forfeit.

“I love my teammates,” Furjes said.  She said she’s grateful for the opportunity to swim but just wishes she could jump from her knees.

“She is very strong, very competitive, very determined girl and so swimming has just been an awesome outlet for her,” said Gwen Furjes, Ella’s mother.  “It’s one sporting event that she doesn’t feel any pain and can feel like all the other kids.”

Gwen Furjes said she’s been receiving help from the Disabled Athletes Sports Association for guidance on how to convince the Missouri State High School Activities Association to allow her daughter to jump from her knees.  The Parkway School District is also working on submitting a request to allow Ella to swim without standing.