She has a personal reason for caring about heart health. In 2010, Ella lost her 2-year-old sister, Colby, to a heart condition called geleophysic dysplasia.

A year later, when Ella was in kindergarten, she got an idea.

“One day, they showed us a video about kids with sick hearts,” she said.

After seeing the video and hearing about the Jump Rope for Heart program, she immediately thought of Colby and told her father, Neil, about her intention to raise “at least $1,000” for the cause.

“He told me, ‘You don’t understand how much money that is,’” Ella said. “I told him, ‘You don’t understand how much I want to help kids with sick hearts.’” Neil Turner said that determination caught him off-guard.

“She made that instant connection that these kids are like Colby,” he said. “I knew she was serious.”

After some consideration, he made a deal with Ella.

“We decided we would try our best and not be disappointed if we didn’t reach our goal,” he said. “As long as we did our best, that was what mattered.”

He was about to discover how far his daughter’s dedication could take her.

“We posted what happened to Facebook and emailed some friends,” Turner said. “And in a little over 24 hours, we had surpassed our goal of $1,000.”

And how. In her first year of fund raising, Ella raised more than $5,700.

The American Heart Association recognized her efforts by naming her a Heart Ambassador. Soon, Ella began appearing at various functions to raise awareness for heart health.

“I’ve gotten to make a whole lot of speeches,” she said. “I’ve spoken to PE teachers and lots of people around Dallas.”

The following year, Ella raised the bar and set a goal of $2,500. Instead, she raised $11,100.

For 2013, she has set a more challenging goal: getting 1,000 donors to support her cause.

Turner said that his daughter’s fundraising website,, is working toward an annual goal and that there is no hard-and-fast cutoff date for donations.

While Ella’s accomplishments have been astounding, her father said he’s most proud of how she has honored Colby’s memory.

“My favorite part is that Ella is just an amazing big sister,” he said. “When Colby was born, she should have been jealous for all the time we had to spend with her. But from the very beginning, she’s been very loving and very understanding.”

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