Ella Turner, 8, loved being a big sister to Colby, even when she was sick.
Colby suffered from geleophysic dysplasia, a strange sounding name even for adults. Neil Turner, Ella’s dad, told her that Colby’s heart was very sick. She died at age 2.
One day after school, when Ella was a kindergartner, school let out and she came home with a huge smile beneath her head of red hair and ran toward her dad.
“Daddy, we are going to raise money for people with bad hearts and I want to raise $1,000 at least. Probably more!” she exclaimed. “They are going to send home information on Thursday and we watched a video and it helps people with bad hearts.”
In her first American Heart Association campaign as a kindergartner, Ella set a goal of $1,000. She raised more than $5,500. Last year, she raised more than $11,000.
Ella’s proud father said out of the millions of kids who participate in Jump Rope for Heart, she ranked No. 2 in the entire nation. In addition to the money raised, she also became a “heart ambassador” and has been involved with several additional activities including numerous speaking engagements, appearing in a promotional video, appearing in the annual report and helping kickoff other American Heart Association events.
This year, the Centennial Elementary student has set her biggest goal. She is seeking support from 1,000 donors, four times her goal from the previous year. The fundraising dynamo has even made her own business card. On one side it says: “Ella Turner 2nd Grader Saves Hearts.”
On the other side, Ella explains the need beside an image of herself holding a photograph of little Colby. She read the words, “I raise money to help kids with sick hearts in memory of my little sister, Colby. Please see more of my story and help me help other kids.” The card also advertises www.EllaJumps.com, which has more information about Ella’s fundraising effort.
Part of her challenge is her family moved to Edmond about a month ago.
“We’ve only lived in Edmond for about four weeks, so she doesn’t have an established network of local support here,” Neil Turner said. “But the short time we have been here, everyone has been so welcoming and helpful. We can already tell this is going to be a great community to call home.”
Ella said she likes to think of Colby, how happy her little sister was.
“Like my mom said I made her laugh the most and the hardest,” Ella said. “She was really cute.”
So far, Ella has about 90 donors and more than $4,500 in online support. Ella said sometimes people donate in the memory of a loved one who had heart disease. Helping others gives her a sense of satisfaction.
“It makes me feel like I’m doing good and I’m going to help a lot of kids,” she said.
For more information about the American Heart Association, visit www.heart.org. At www.EllaJumps.com, you can read about Ella’s past campaigns, more about her current one and find links to her donation and Facebook pages.
If you are in Edmond, be on the lookout for a smiling 8-year-old redhead handing out her business card and on a mission to save hearts.
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