Edwardsburg rallies to support EHS student

EDWARDSBURG — The Edwardsburg community has pulled together to support an Edwardsburg High School student.

On Dec. 13, EHS student Ella Merrill lost control of her car on snowy roads and collided with an Edwardsburg school bus. At the time of the accident, Merrill was taken to South Bend Memorial Hospital with severe brain trauma. Recently, Merrill has been transferred to a specialist in Grand Rapids, Michigan and has begun breathing on her own.

Since the accident, the community has pulled together in support of Merrill. People have changed their Facebook profile pictures to pictures of Merrill. GoFundMe pages have been launched. Local businesses have displayed “Pray for Ella” on their outdoor electric signs. Local businesses have been selling “#prayforella” T-shirts to raise money for her care. Most recently, community members hosted a benefit for Merrill Tuesday, Jan. 9 at the Hope of Edwardsburg Church. For the benefit, local vendors, selling products such as LulaRoe, 31 Bags, Perfectly Posh and more sold items and donated a portion of their profits to Merrill’s family.

“We held the fundraiser for Ella and her family to help with some of the medical costs they have incurred,” said Mikki Spagnoli, a family friend of the Merrill’s who helped organize the event Tuesday. “There is a large cost involved with her care in the last month and whatever will happen with Ella in the future. We wanted to help.”

The event Tuesday was well attended, and Spagnoli said she experienced an outpouring of support for Merrill at the event. Overall, the event raised more than $7,000 in donations and profits.

Spagnoli said she was not surprised about the amount of support for Merrill and her family, as both are well loved in the community.

“The family is very involved in the community and the county, and Ella is a big part of the school system and is very much loved by a number of individuals,” Spagnoli said. “There was an acknowledgement [at the event] of people that they were praying for Ella and everything the family is going through.”

The event is not the only fundraiser that is taking place Merrill’s honor. Her high school friend Bailey Anson, 16, has been involved in an ongoing project, selling wristbands that say “#prayforella,” and giving the proceeds to Merrill’s family to support her treatment.

“I knew I wanted to do something to help Ella’s family, but I didn’t know what,” Merrill said. “[The bands] were a way to get more people involved, because not everyone can afford a T-shirt or something like that, but most people can afford a $2 bracelet.”

Anson said she got the idea to sell the bracelets when she saw a similar fundraiser take place after one of her friends died in an accident. Once she got the idea to sell the bracelets, she ordered 1,200 online. She has already sold out and had to make another order.

While Anson said she is happy to raise money for Merrill’s family, the wristbands mean more to her than just money.

“When I look at my band, it just reminds me to pray, and I want everyone to be praying for [Merrill] right now,” Anson said. “I really do believe that she will get through this. She is strong, but we all need to support her and pray for her.”

For updates on Merrill’s condition and to support her and her family, visit: caringbridge.org/visit/ellamerrill. Wristbands and T-shirts in support of Ella can be purchased at Edwardsburg Fitness, 69855 Rolen Dr., Edwardsburg, and La Place for Latte, 25990 US-12, Edwardsburg.

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