Rockwall Girl Jumps for Money for Heart Association

Fundraising goal inspired by baby sister's struggles

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The bond between sisters is special, and it inspired a girl in Rockwall to raise "like, the most money in school."

    Six-year-old Ella Turner has raised more than $4,000 so far for the American Heart Association's Jump Rope for Heart campaign.

    6-Year-Old Jumps for Heart Research

    [DFW] 6-Year-Old Jumps for Heart Research
    Six-year-old raises thousands for the American Heart Association in memory of her sister.

    She made it her goal the day her physical education teacher at Nebbie Williams Elementary School told students about the campaign.

    Doctors detected a heart murmur in Ella's sister, Colby, when she 1 year old.

    Colby also had other problems doctors couldn't fix. She was diagnosed with a rare condition called geleophysic dysplasia. Colby died in May 2010 at the age of 2.

    Her father, Neil Turner, said he vividly remembers the day Ella told about the campaign.

    "She was talking so fast, going 100 mph and saying, 'Dad, we're going to raise money, and it's for kids with sick hearts, and there's going to be jump ropes, and I'm going to get a thousand dollars,'" he said.

    Her father told her that the goal was "a little too much," but Ella dug in.

    "She said, 'You don't understand,'" Turner said. "She said, 'They help kids like Colby,' and my heart just sank.'"

    The more he thought about it, the worse he felt, he said. He said he realized he needed to make it right.

    "That next morning on the way to school, I apologized and told her I was wrong," Turner said.

    "He told me, 'We'll try our best'," Ella said.

    Her parents jumped in to help and roped in friends through a letter Turner wrote called "Mending Hearts and Sails."

    "My dad put it on his Facebook and my mom did, and everyone knew how important it was, because I was doing it for my sister," Ella said.

    Her mother, Usha Turner, said her daughters were very close.

    "We always told Ella [that] Colby laughed hardest when she was around Ella," she said.

    Ella has raised more than $4,200 -- and counting.

    "She was leading the state and was second or first in the nation in Jump Rope for Heart donations," Principal Karen Aikman said.

    Nebbie Williams Elementary has been participating in Jump Rope for Heart for many years. The program raises money for research and education programs.

    "And we love to be able to give back, and we love the kids to be able to learn that," Aikman said.