Fourth grader battling cancer goes to class in a robot's body

Local - 8/15/2013 7:22 PM by Karen Franklin
HINTON - Some say it looks like a bobby pin with an Xbox inside, but this VGO robot is keeping a fourth grade student in school for the next year.

Ellie Rhodes was diagnosed with leukemia in September and recently underwent a bone marrow transplant. On Thursday, she attended her first day of class in a robot's body.

"She's been a trooper this morning," teacher Cathy Shank said. "She's participated in everything we've done. We did a story. We did a worksheet. Her little hand was raising when we were looking at her when the robot was moving around the room."

Especially happy to have Ellie by her side is her best friend Maggie. It's the first time in a long time that the pair shared the same teacher.

"Ellie gets to communicate with all of us, and we can see her and talk to her and do whatever with her," Maggie Stover told WOAY.

But the robot isn't just for Ellie to learn in class. She's also walking around with her friends and eating lunch with them in the cafeteria.

"I thought that she would just have to stay home another year and not be here with us, but now she has the robot and a whole nother world to her," Stover said.

Her teacher thinks the kids enjoy seeing Ellie in class.

"Whenever she drove the robot around the room and came to their desks, they would all wave, and they're just really excited to see her because she's been gone for almost a whole year."

Back in school and a true part of Mrs. Shank's class, Ellie just has to learn to maneuver like a pro.

"It's easy sometimes, but when I turn really far, then I'll just turn all around," Ellie told WOAY through her robot.


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