Bristol's Ela Pirri continues to put differently-abled in spotlight

By Ethan Hartley
Posted 2/1/23

13-year-old Ela Pirri recently participated as a model during The Limb Kind Foundation’s third-annual “Show Your Shine” adaptive runway event that took place on Long Island, N.Y.

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Bristol's Ela Pirri continues to put differently-abled in spotlight


Ela Pirri is no stranger to putting herself in the spotlight while advocating on behalf of the differently-abled, but this time she took the phrase a bit more literally.

Ela, a 13-year-old Bristol resident and a proud eighth-grade member of the state champion Kickemuit Middle School girls soccer team, recently participated as a model during The Limb Kind Foundation’s third-annual “Show Your Shine” adaptive runway event that took place on Long Island, N.Y. on Jan. 21 at The Sands Atlantic Beach.

The event began with just a couple dozen attendees back in 2020, and has since grown into a large fundraiser to benefit kids who have experienced the loss of a limb or who have various mobility differences, whether due to genetics or an amputation resulting from accidents or medical emergencies.

“This year there was over 415 guests and over 27 models,” said Julie Pirri, Ela’s mom. “And they raised over $50,000 to help those that can't get access to prosthetics.”

Ela was born with Radial Ray Duane’s Anomaly, resulting in 10 surgeries and extensive orthopedic therapy appointments at Boston Children’s Hospital throughout her life. Despite the challenges, she has never let her condition slow her down.

In addition to playing soccer, Ela has made the pages of this paper before for inspiring a line of charitable Saucony sneakers, the Ela Ride 14 — the sales of which benefit the Boston Children’s Hospital.

She said in a recent interview that she gets strength and encouragement from her parents (her father, Robert, has the same condition as Ela), and her community — whether that’s her soccer teammates, friends at school, or the new friends she met at the Show Your Shine event, which she described as a “life changing” event.

“Everyone had a different story and everyone had a different perspective on what happened to them, whether it was through trauma, or they were born like that,” she said. “Everyone had a different perspective on life and I think seeing everyone’s perspective and showing that we're not alone changed everybody in the best way possible.”

Ela said that she met several people at the event who she expects to become lifelong friends, and that she was already in talks with the Limb Kind Foundation about being a featured speaker at next year’s event.
If you ask her mom, Ela’s continued advocacy and graceful navigation through life with a mobility difference is not surprising in the slightest — and she was right at home in the spotlight of a runway.

“I think the drive that Ela has keeps her going. She went through a little rough time over the past summer and as a teenager, body image is challenging in and of itself. I think that she overcame that and pushed through,” Julie said. “I think what will happen with her is she’ll continue to become an advocate, not only as someone with a limb difference, but also a counselor or a mentor for those that might have experienced it the same way she has, and still is.”

For more information on The Limb Kind Foundation or to donate to their mission of helping kids with mobility differences, visit

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.