Kattia Ruiz, the daughter of Dr. Bill and Jackie Johnson of Cleveland, will graduate on May 3 from Tennessee Wesleyan College. Her journey from Honduras when she was 14 months old is a miracle story which has brought her to this point in life.
It started when Dr. Ron Coleman in Honduras on a mission trip, met Kattia and her mother. Kattia was suffering from a heart problem that affects some babies soon after birth known as PDA (patent ductus arterosus). Coleman brought the baby girl back here for surgery. She had the surgery at T.C. Thompson’s Hospital and, 10 weeks later, returned to her mother a new child.
Kattia attended bilingual private school from the age of 3 and graduated from the Agape Christian Academy in June 2010, in Honduras.
In the years afterward, staying with Dr. William and Jackie Johnson built a stong relationship between Kattia and the Johnson family. “Having three teenagers at the time,” Jackie Johnson said, “summers were hectic when Kattia visited.”
She stayed with them 10 weeks each summer and the Johnsons were in Honduras twice a year with a mission team, so strong bonds were formed for the family.
When Kattia was 15, the Johnsons hosted the traditional Quincenera — or coming out party — in Honduras. The religious ceremony is held first, then followed by a big party at the hotel. Dr. Johnson escorted his daughter into the room and danced the first dance with her. The night was great, Mrs. Johnson remembered.
After graduation from Agape Christian Academy, Kattia came to live in Cleveland with the Johnsons while she attended Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens.
After her graduation, she will return to Honduras, where she plans to enter law school and continue life where she left off with her friends and family.
The Johnsons say she will be missed deeply, but “our mission trips will take us back twice a year and she will travel to the states when she can.”