Community shows support for Ella Whistler with lemonade stand fundraiser

Ella's Aid
Dozens of locations selling lemonade to support Ella (830AM)
Dozens of locations selling lemonade to support Ella (8AM)
Dozens of locations selling lemonade to support Ella (630AM)

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (WTHR) - It’s been a hot first day of summer break for kids in Noblesville. Many of them (and their families) are spending the day in the sun, raising money for their classmate, Ella Whistler. The 13-year-old was hurt during the shooting at Noblesville West Middle School last week. They used lemonade to try to help sweeten her sour situation.

Lemonade stands are a summer staple, but around central Indiana on Saturday, they were also something special. People put out lemonade stands as part of a fundraiser, called Ella’s Aid. It was an idea that started with our partners at WFMS 95.5 FM. People stopped by the Tractor Supply Company in Noblesville to quench their thirst. At the same time, they were paying it forward to help pay for Ella’s medical bills.

“It really shows the support our community puts together for everybody,” said Jon Flegel, who lives in Fishers.

“The support's just been amazing,” said Paul Panning, who is Ella’s uncle. “This is such a neat idea. We're going to try to hit as many lemonade stands as we can today so we're going to get plenty of it and support our niece, Ella.”

The spirit of sharing isn't just at that one location. There are more than a dozen families who put out lemonade stands in front of their own homes and several businesses and other places, like the Noblesville Youth Baseball Field of Dreams, also taking donations in exchange for lemonade.

“People [are] coming up and giving us $2 for some cheap lemonade,” said Zach Leslie, who lives in Noblesville. “People [are] shoving 20's in and just walking away. It's really cool. It's the least we could do, take a few hours out of our Saturday to come in and see what we could raise.”

“It's all for Ella,” said Wendy Gibson, who lives in Atlanta. “All for Ella.”

There was even more lemonade at the Noblesville Moose Lodge and even more emotions after a rough week.

“I have a child that's the same age and just to think about that, being a parent,” said Erika Flanders, as her sentence trailed off. “It's just awesome that our community has all pulled together to help.”

“The families, the fear on their faces, it was just unreal,” said Sonsee Cloud, who also lives in Noblesville. “It’s one of those things you see on TV, but it doesn’t really hit home and that really did for me. So we want to do whatever we can to help support her and her family.”

"The whole state is getting involved in this,” said Donna Collins, who lives in Lawrence.

They all have the same message: they want to show support for Ella and hope she feels better soon.

Another place we stopped by was Salsbery Brothers landscaping in Carmel. That's where Ella's dad works. He's been there more than 20 years. The company president says the tragedy hit home, so they were happy to be part of this ongoing effort.

“I couldn't tell you the amount of texts, emails, phone calls, I've received this week,” said Jeff Salsbery. “And when I heard about Ella's Aid, we all said, ‘hey, we have to do this today.’ This is family for us.”

People who were collecting donations as part of Ella's Aid will be adding their money to the collection. You can donate directly to the GoFundMe, too.