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Katherine Grandstrand, Forum Communications , Published September 24 2012

Medora teen who whistles through her eye may be featured on ‘Letterman’

MEDORA, N.D. – When Ashley Ellison, 16, Medora, found out she could whistle through her eye socket, she didn’t think anything of it.

“It’s just me blowing air through my eye,” she said Monday morning at the Bismarck Airport waiting to board a plane on her way to New York. “I thought everybody could kind of do it, and I didn’t think it was that rare of a thing, but I guess it is.”

But that quirk is sending the Belfield High School junior and her parents, Mary and Doug Ellison, on a trip to New York where she has a chance to be broadcast nationwide as part of Stupid Human Tricks on “Late Show with David Letterman.”

She will be one of six performers in the segment, but only three will make the cut to the national broadcast this evening. The show is taped in the early evening and then edited and aired at 10:35.

The show paid for Ashley and one parent to fly to New York and stay Monday and tonight. They bought a third ticket so the whole family could go.

The Ellisons decided to send in a video of Ashley’s talent last spring, and it took about six months to get a response, she said.

“My parents did it just to annoy me,” Ashley said. “They’re like, ‘We’re going to send it to the Letterman show for Stupid Human Tricks,” and I’m like ‘OK, whatever,’ and, yeah, I guess it worked.”

She was very surprised when she found out she was chosen.

“I kind of went into shock,” Ashley said. “My parents called me to let me know when I was in the middle of Algebra II.”

Her class thought it was bad news, like a death in the family. “I couldn’t say sentences,” she said.

If picked, this appearance will complete a TV and film trifecta for the family. Mary was in the film “Wooly Boys,” which was filmed in Medora, and Doug has appeared on The History Channel.

This is not the first time Ashley’s schedule has dictated a family vacation, Mary said.

“We feel like we keep following Ashley around,” she said. “We’ve been to Washington, D.C., because of her History Day participation, and she needed to go to Mexico to get her scuba diving certification.”

New York wouldn’t have been the couple’s first choice for a getaway, Doug said.

“It’s kind of ironic, my wife, Mary, and I always had kind of said, ‘Who would want to go to New York City?’ ” Medora’s mayor said.

But Ashley is excited to see the world’s second-largest city.

“I’m hoping that we have some time to kind of tour around and see all of the stuff, like the Empire State Building and things like that, the Statue of Liberty,” she said.

The guests tonight are Kaley Cuoco from “The Big Bang Theory,” of which Ashley is a fan, and The Whigs.

While in New York, Medora’s mayor did not have any meetings planned with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Doug said.

“His schedule is probably busier than mine,” he said. “So probably not.”


Katherine Grandstrand writes for the Dickinson Press