Pella Kid Captain Ready to Kick Off Hawkeye Football

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PELLA, Iowa-- A Pella third grader will take the field at Kinnick this weekend to help the Hawkeyes kickoff the 2015 football season.

Kid Captain Makayla Bell is living proof that courage can come in a small package.

“You wouldn't guess that she's endured everything she has. She looks like a typical 8-year-old,” said Makayla's mom, Melanie Bell.

The picture of health now, Makayla was diagnosed with OEIS Syndrome, a complex of birth defects so rare, it only affects one out of every 300,000 babies.

“Those four letters stand for the four major birth defects that a child has to have to be classified as being born with OEIS,” said Bell.

The complex includes what’s called omphalocele, a birth defect where baby’s intestines and other organs are outside of the body, bowel and anus complications and Spina Bifida.

Makayla has undergone 14 surgeries and so many smaller procedures that her family has lost count.

“They kind of prepare you, this could happen or this could happen. They have an idea, but to get what we got today is just amazing,” said Eric Bell, Makayla's dad.

The 8-year-old plays basketball, softball, soccer and is in dance. She also loves pink flamingoes and pandas.

“I definitely believe in miracles probably more so than I did before. She is a walking, talking, jumping miracle,” said Melanie.

On Saturday, the Bells head to Iowa City for the Hawkeyes season opener and to share their brave little girl’s story.

“To see her get celebrated this way and to have 70,000 fans screaming and cheering for her, that's going to be pretty amazing,” said Makayla’s Dad.

There are 13 Kid Captains this season. The program, now in its seventh year, is a partnership between UI Children's Hospital and the Iowa Hawkeyes.