Community unites at Bella’s Ball


The 2nd Bella’s Ball was held Saturday night in order to raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer. The Ball is organized by the Live Like Bella foundation which helps fund pediatric cancer research and provides monetary aid to families with children struggling with cancer.

The Live Like Bella foundation was founded shortly after the death of 10 year old Bella Rodriguez-Torres due to pediatric cancer. Her family started the organization to carry on her memory as an optimistic little girl who loved her family and God.

After last year’s successful Ball, the Live Like Bella foundation hoped to continue its success. “It gives us not only the opportunity to raise money but also bring awareness,” said Javier Martinez the director of special projects at the Live Like Bella foundation.

He went on to explain something that made the Live Like Bella foundation unique–98% of every dollar donated is used by the foundation to fund pediatric cancer research. “The foundation funds pediatric cancer research and only pediatric cancer research,” said Raymond Rodriguez-Torres, Bella’s father and founder of Live Like Bella.

The highlight of the night came when Rodriguez-Torres took the stage to talk about the foundations fight against cancer and what they are doing to improve the local community. He along with Baptist Health announced the opening of a proton radiation treatment center, which is a more accurate way of administering radiation therapy for cancer patients.

Previously this type of treatment was only available outside of South Florida, and the Rodriguez-Torres family was forced to leave the place they called home to pursue treatment for Bella. With the opening of this new treatment center South Florida Families will be able to get the best cancer treatment without having to relocate.

One of the speakers at Bella’s Ball was 16 year old Julian Perez who is both autistic and fighting cancer. He spoke about the support Live Like Bella has given his family and how he plans on beating cancer. Julian is an avid Superman fan and he dubbed his cancer kryptonite and he plans on getting rid of all the kryptonite in his body.

While there were many heartwarming stories and groundbreaking announcements the purpose of Bella’s Ball is to raise money. At the end of the night, thanks to generous donors and a silent auction, Live Like Bella raised more than $60,000 for childhood pediatric cancer research.

Filmed by Phillip Bootsma and edited by David Perez

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