2011 Results - Wow!
Word of her efforts and the inspiration behind it spread and she was featured in newspapers, in a magazine and on television. She also received recognition from the mayor and our school board. As parents, we were so happy to watch her get the chance to show the world what a great big sister she is.
In 2011, Ella signed up as a first time Jump Rope for Heart participant and set an incredibly high goal. She wanted to raise $1,000 in memory of her little sister, Colby. It was far more money than I thought she could raise, but I turned out to be wrong. Way wrong.
In fact, within 28 hours of sharing her story online, she met her goal. By the time she was done, she had raised more than $5,700 and was the #1 fundraiser in Texas and #10 in the entire nation.
But the question everyone asked Ella was “How do you feel about what you have done?”
Ella’s answer was always some variation of “I like helping kids with sick hearts.” For a six-year old, I thought her answer was pretty good, but many times the person interviewing her would look to me for a deeper understanding.
I would try to explain that it’s just in her nature to want to help. At group functions you’ll find her serving food and filling drinks. When she tags along with us to volunteer events, she looks for something needing to be done and jumps right in. Wherever we are she is happy when she is doing helpful.
Unsatisfied with the answers, the question persisted, “But why is Jump Rope for Heart so important to her?” After one such interview this summer, a whole day went by with me trying to figure out what I was failing to convey. I guess the answer was so obvious to me that it took a while for my brain to figure out how to put it into words. So a day later, I called the interviewer back with an explanation.
At the age of 5, Ella learned the pain of losing someone she loved. Not only is that pain very personal for her, she has watched her parents and many others who love Colby suffer with her loss. That is a lot for anyone to take, much less a 5 year old.
So at 6 she heard about the American Heart Association and how they work to help prevent and treat heart disease. She may not understand the many facets of heart disease, but she understands the pain it can cause. So when she hears the AHA helps those people of course she wants to help! She wants to help others avoid going through what we are going through.
And help she did! Not only did she raise a lot of money, once the fundraising period was over she continued to support the American Heart Association. She has been a guest speaker at AHA staff training events, featured in the AHA annual report and was an invited speaker at the luncheon honoring the physical education teachers involved in Jump Rope for Heart. She has continued to work with the AHA and shares her story to raise awareness and support of their programs.