Meet Marlee — The New Face of Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Kids

Marlee Cole

Being able to run and play freely without pain is something most children instinctively do, yet for the daughter of Spring Creek Elementary’s Andrea Cole, restricted movement was a way of life.

Marlee, age five, was a developmentally late walker and once she did start walking, did so with a limp, was not able to sit criss cross, could not walk very fast, and frequently fell. At the age of two, Marlee was diagnosed with bilateral hip dysplasia at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Kids.

Hip dysplasia is an abnormal formation of the hip that predisposes the ball of the thighbone to slip in and out of the socket — meaning, her hip sockets were not properly developed and they ‘floated’ in the joint.

In Marlee’s case, surgeries were necessary to place her hips back into their sockets. Each surgery was extensive and met with a lengthy recovery. Bone grafts were taken from her femur and pelvis to repair the left and right hips, respectively. Each procedure made the hip sockets deeper, so that her hips would fit in place properly. With every surgery came weeks of being in a spica cast — a body cast from toes to chest — to immobilize her lower body. Each time the casts were removed, she had to learn to walk again.

Today, Marlee is an active and rambunctious little girl and can be found playing soccer, running with friends on the playground and even spent Spring Break skiing with her family in Colorado.

Chances are, you may have seen Marlee’s bouncing curls and boisterous personality in your own living room as Marlee currently represents Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in their new brand campaign Move Freely.

“Our patients and families are our best ambassadors and we are so fortunate to have the Cole family support our brand campaign,” said Ruth Ann Hensley, Senior Communications Officer for Texas Scottish Rite Hospital. “They told us several times that they were so happy to give back to the hospital because they were extremely grateful for Marlee’s care.”

Andrea currently teaches first grade at Spring Creek Elementary and is in her 13th year in RISD. Big sisters Chloe and Ellie are in the third and fifth grades at Spring Creek and Marlee will begin Kindergarten this fall.

Throughout this process, the Cole Family received countless support and encouragement from RISD and Spring Creek families. “The generosity we received was overwhelming,” said Andrea. “It was truly humbling that so many people wanted to help our family.”

“The school staff and teachers were constantly checking on us, groceries would simply arrive at our door, people helped shuttle the big girls to and from activities and we had countless meals delivered! I think this support is what truly made this period of our life bearable for us. We could not have made it through without the care and support of this community.”

Hip dysplasia is something Marlee will have for life, but treatment will hopefully provide her a pain free life and allow her to fully participate in sports and any other activities she wants. Thank you Scottish Rite and congratulations Marlee, we are looking forward to your first day of school on August 20!

Check out Marlee’s commercial and read more about the Move Freely campaign.