Ella Harper, also known as the “Camel Girl”, was born in Hendersonville, North Carolina in 1870 with a rare condition called ichthyosis, which caused her skin to be dry and flaky. She also had Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which made her joints extremely supple and her skin velvety soft. Her knees were bent backwards, making daily tasks such as eating, dressing, and bathing difficult. Despite her condition, her family was her biggest supporter, and she maintained a positive outlook on life.
Unable to attend school, Ella began posting photos and videos on social media at the age of 10, inspiring people to pursue their dreams regardless of physical or mental conditions. Her story was shared on The Ellen Show and other media outlets, raising awareness of rare genetic disorders. She gained national attention, and world-renowned cosmetics companies asked her to speak at schools and advertising campaigns. Ella began performing at the age of 12, captivating audiences with her tightrope walking, acrobatics, and juggling. After her death in 1921 due to colon cancer, the “Camel Girl Foundation” was established in her memory to support medical intervention for other rare diseases.
Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is an inherited disorder that affects the connective tissues, causing symptoms such as joint and back pain, anxiety, digestive problems, and cardiovascular issues. There is no known cure for the condition, and treatment aims to reduce symptoms. Patients must be careful not to injure themselves due to slow-healing wounds and avoid excessive stress on their joints. It is estimated that between 10,000 and 20,000 people have the syndrome worldwide.
Ella Harper’s legacy continues to inspire people to embrace their differences and pursue their dreams. Her story is a testament to the power of positivity and determination, and her memory lives on through the Camel Girl Foundation.