Bella Rodriguez Torres is a 10-year-old girl in Miami, FL. She has been fighting Stage IV Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma since the age of four and a half. Recently, she was sent home on hospice care, as her treatment options have run out.
I’ve never met Bella personally, though I have seen her before…I remember her sitting among friends and family at the cafe in the American Girl store. She was all smiles, the center of attention. Bella’s smile is infectious. In fact, it’s the first thing I think of when I see her name: her big, beautiful smile.
Bella’s parents recently launched a live like Bella campaign (#LiveLikeBella) on Twitter and Facebook, urging people to live life to the fullest, as Bella has her entire life.
But amazingly, this campaign has emerged well beyond social media. Today, while driving to a shopping center near my house, I saw a car with the words “Live Like Bella” painted in red–Bella’s favorite color–on the back window. Someone posted a photo of an overpass on the Palmetto Expressway, in which the words, “Live Like Bella” were arranged with Red Solo Cups (http://instagram.com/p/ZdC287OiAK/). Houses all over my neighborhood are adorned with red ribbons, red bows, and red signs, showing support for this amazing little girl who continues to fight this awful disease that, due to lack of funding for research, has no cure.
In a city like Miami where people don’t really know their neighbors, people speak different languages, and the reputation of the public is considered rude, at best, to see people coming together to show support for Bella warms my heart. And every time I see a Live Like Bella sign or bumper sticker or a red ribbon tied to a tree, I’m further reminded that sometimes, all it takes to raise awareness is an adorable little girl with a big smile, a big heart, and a strong will to live life to the fullest.
Sadly, it’s highly unlikely that this awareness will bring a cure quickly enough to catch up with Bella’s disease. But with thousands of people praying for a miracle, her odds of receiving one have got to be better than most.
In the meantime, I’m off to tie a red ribbon to a tree in my yard, and when I receive the “Live Like Bella” car magnet I just ordered, I will put it proudly on my car. Not only will this help raise awareness about childhood cancer, but it will also pay tribute to one of the bravest, most beautiful souls living in Miami.
Please pray for Bella. And live like her, too.