Votes wanted

Saturday, October 30, 2010
Ella McPheeters, 5, holds a sign in hopes of stirring up votes for a grant project in her name. Ella, diagnosed with autism, is the granddaughter of Steve and Patti McPheeters of Sikeston. Voting is open through Sunday for a $25,000 grant through the Pepsi "Refresh Everything" project, which will help with early intervention for autism. (Submitted Photo)

SIKESTON -- The McPheeters family wants your votes.

For the past four months, they have been voting and campaigning daily for Ella's Hope with the Pepsi "Refresh Everything" grant. If the project breaks the Top 10 this weekend, $25,000 will be awarded for the early intervention of autism. As of Friday, it was ranked No. 14.

The project is all in the name of Ella McPheeters, 5-year-old daughter of Sam and Hope McPheeters of Columbia. Sam McPheeters is a 1993 Sikeston High School graduate and the son of Steve and Patti McPheeters of Sikeston.

Here's the breakdown for how the funds will be spent, should Ella's Hope fall in the Top 10: $10,000 for start-up costs and putting on the first major fundraiser for families; $5,000 to the Thompson Center for Autism for Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention; and $10,000 for scholarship funds for families to help with therapy costs -- of which $5,000 is earmarked for the Kenny Rogers Children's Center in Sikeston.

"This will benefit several institutes for early intervention of autism," said Hope McPheeters. After they waited for their daughter to receive treatment, they want to do all they can to eliminate or decrease that for other families. Ella was on the waiting list for a year for her specific therapy after being diagnosed at age 2.

Hope McPheeters stressed that people can help benefit children like Ella without spending a dime by voting. People can vote vote once daily three different ways -- for a total three votes -- by email address, Facebook account or cell phone. Standard text rates -- which are included in a data plan -- apply, but there is no surcharge, said McPheeters.

For more information, go to, or to vote and learn more about the $25,000 grant, go to

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