Local teams rally together to help Sheridan family

Josh Briggs
Managing Editor

They may be rivals on the diamond, but off the field, Saline County’s four high school softball programs are teaming up to help a Sheridan family cope with a tragic event that took place Saturday.

Kaci Ellison, 20, sister to Sheridan softball player Kendall Ellison, collapsed and later died Saturday while attending the Drew Melton: Forever Young Memorial Scholarship Tournament at Riverside Park in Benton.

According to the Benton Fire Department, emergency personnel were dispatched to the park around 2:20 p.m. to find that CPR had already been initiated to Kaci Ellison and that a AED machine had been attached to her with a “no shock advised” status.

Kendall Ellison also required moderate medical attention for what was described as a “panic attack-type episode,” according to a report from BNPD.
Crews were able to settle Kendall down and no further medical attention was requested.
Saline Memorial MedTran arrived a short time afterward, transporting Kaci to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead later.

Less than 48 hours after her death, Saline County teams are planning donation events to help the family with her funeral expenses.

“One of my parents came to me with the idea,” said Bryant Head Coach Lisa Dreher.
The Bryant Lady Hornets organization plans to pass a bucket among the crowd to collect donations for the Kaci Ellison Memorial Fund during tonight’s conference game at home against Mount St. Mary. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.

Checks can be made to BLHS Booster Club and receipts will be provided.

Also, donations may be made at Simmons Bank in the names of Jeff and Deana Ellison.

Benton Head Coach Heidi Cox and the Benton Lady Panthers have sent a floral arrangement to the family.
“Words seem inadequate to express the sadness we feel for our softball family,” Cox said on behalf of her team. “Our hearts ache for the Ellison family and the Sheridan softball program. We will continue to pray for strength, guidance and understanding. May you all be comforted by the outpouring of love surrounding you.”

The Benton softball program was struck with tragedy in the fall of 2012 when star shortstop Drew Melton was killed in a hill-jumping accident in Bryant. Melton was a senior at the time of her death.
Saturday’s tournament was being held to honor her memory.

Sara Tew, Bauxite’s head coach, also plans to take donations during an upcoming game.
Tew said a bucket will be passed around during senior night Monday, April 24, when the Lady Miners take on Gurdon. First pitch is set for 5 p.m.

Harmony Grove also will collect donations during an upcoming game.
Kaci Ellison was born Feb. 6, 1997, in Joplin, Missouri, to Jeff and Deana Castleberry Ellison.

She graduated from White Hall High School in 2016 and was loved by her classmates and teachers. She was unanimously voted 2016 prom queen as well.
Kaci enjoyed Special Olympics bowling, singing, playing the piano and cheering for her sister’s softball team. She also was known for the many hats she wore to match her outfits.

She is survived by her parents, Jeff and Deana Ellison, of White Hall; a sister, Kendall Ellison, of White Hall; paternal grandparents, Clyde and Nina Ellison, of Pine Bluff; maternal grandparents, James and Helen Castleberry, of White Hall; and a number of aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.
Funeral service will be held at 1 p.m., Wednesday at Family Church with the Rev. Stephen Harrison officiating.

Burial will follow in Memorial Park Cemetery.

Visitation will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. today at Cranford Funeral Home of White Hall. Memorials may be made to Family Church Building Fund, 2500 Highway 104, White Hall, AR 71602.