Stoughton freshman needs your help making the school track team

Ella Phillips is determined to make the school's track team. You could help turn her dream into a reality.

STOUGHTON, Wis. — Since Stoughton High School freshman Ella Phillips was 3 years old, she’s used a walker to help her get around.

She has what’s called Brain Lung Thyroid Syndrome. It causes mobility issues.

“She might need help with things like washing her hair because coordinating that is often difficult,” said Phillips’ mom Lynn Phillips.

Despite Ella Phillips’ challenges, her mom says, “She likes to be really active and she is an amazing girl.”

For the first time, Phillips is trying out for her school’s track team. But there are several obstacles she faces.

Her walker isn’t allowed on the track. Phillips had an opportunity to use a race runner which is a combination of a bike and walker. However, that still didn’t make the cut. The race runner is not allowed in competitions. But Phillips is still determined to make the team.

“I’d be so happy because I could see my friends and compete and try to win a lot,” Phillips said.

In an effort to help, a familiar face came to the rescue.

Kathie Natzke, whose son Paul knew Ella from swimming lessons, decided to help.

Paul has spina bifida. Like Ella, he loved being active, which is why Natzke started an organization called Paul’s Party after he died in an accident two and a half years ago.

“Paul’s Party exists to buy sports and recreational equipment for kids with physical disabilities,” Natzke. “We do it because of Paul. He was a kid who never met a sport that he didn’t want to try.”

As a way to honor her son’s memory and help her cope with the loss of her little boy, Natzke said, “We kind of decided that we needed to do something great with this in Paul’s memory.”

Paul’s Party is hosting a fundraiser this weekend to help raise money for a racing wheelchair so Phillips can compete on her school’s track team.

“I know as a mom how difficult it is to make some of these things happen, both financially and logistically. It’s nice to be able to help people find the opportunities to be active,” Natzke said.

Lynn Phillips said she’s grateful for Natzke’s help and wouldn’t have been able to make Ella’s dream possible without it.

“It can be really hard to find true inclusion and for her to be able to do things with her peers at the same level,” Lynn Phillips said. “I’m just really happy that Ella is going to have this opportunity”

The fundraiser is this Sunday from 2-5 p.m. at Viking Brew Pub located at 211 E. Main St in Stoughton. All the money raised will help purchase a track racing and throwing stand for Phillips. If you can’t make it but would still like to donate, you can do so via PayPal at or you can write a check to Paul’s Party and send it to Fitchburg Oak Bank at 5951 McKee Road #100.