shape when she passed away and I felt like I was standing at the intersection of fall apart or pull it together. I started a diet and a fitness routine. My goal
was to lose 30 pounds and be a runner in The Patriots Cup – a 3k race that
benefits The Arc of Northern Virginia.
The reason that goal was so very important to me is that Bella’s bones
broke. An undetected calcium and vitamin D deficiency meant that her body just broke into pieces. She was born with so many problems and missed out on so many wonderful experiences. It seemed appropriate to make The Patriots Cup an annual event to benefit The Arc in Bella’s sweet
I reached out to friends and family and asked them to Join Team Bella and run or walk with me in the race. Last Saturday marked Team Bella’s second year of participation in Patriots Cup. We didn’t win a trophy and we weren’t fast. But boy were we mighty! There were about 50 members of Team Bella this year and we raised close to $4000 for The Arc of Northern Virginia and will help people
with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. I know firsthand how The Arc can literally save families by informing them of services, rights, and activities that allow people with disabilities to thrive.
Let me tell you a little about Team Bella. First, we have a beautiful logo that was made by Actual Size Creative last year and given to us for free. The folks at Actual Size are amazingly creative and talented and when I asked them if they could design a logo for us, they jumped at the chance and created one that is perfect for remembering Bella. Some of our members donated but didn’t participate. Among them was my mother, my aunt, some of my very best friends, and some very generous colleagues. Other members ran or walked this weekend and donated. As I ran along I thought about each person who supported our efforts and how so many of them had been there from the very beginning when Bella was born.
This year my son ran in the race. He had his teachers on either side of him and as I watched him run across the finish line with all his might, I was so proud and so very thankful that he is healthy and can join me for this special
event and grateful that his teachers have joined Team Bella!
I ran with the father of my children. He is no longer my husband, but he is my friend. It brought me such joy to share this experience with him too. Last year he brought our son. This year we all ran and perhaps fittingly, he and
I crossed the finish line together just as we had with all of Bella’s life events – as a team.
My fiancé walked with Bella’s nurse and one of Bella’s teachers who we love so dearly. Words cannot adequately express the admiration and the love I feel for these three amigos. I also watched them cross the finish line. My fiancé even ran the last part of the race.
Some of my dearest friends ran with me. Among them was Kirk who literally has been there for me at every step since before Bella was born. He ran by my side last year and this year. He is one of our best runners and could blow my pace out of the water and yet he runs with me, helping me strategize and making sure I am ok. I love him so much. He is such a beautiful person. His wife and daughter are too. They honor Bella and think of her all the time and even visit her grave frequently.
The members of Team Bella are keeping her memory alive and bright. Her speech therapist, her teachers, her physical therapist to name a few. As I saw them at check in, I thought of the enormous role they played in her life and how
they held us, comforted us and waited with us for an entire weekend at the hospital as we said goodbye to Bella and now are still giving to us to help keep her spirit alive.
And a big part of Team Bella is due to my personal trainer and his clients who last year and this year represented a third of Team Bella. These folks are new friends for me and it really touches my heart to know that they
want to be part of Team Bella too.
Some of my teammates are my colleagues and I am deeply grateful for their friendship and support. Some of Team Bella’s most important members couldn’t be there this year but will be back in 2015. We missed them but we knew
they were with us in spirit!
It was a very special day in memory of a very special girl is dearly loved and deeply missed. It felt so good to run, so good to raise much needed funds for a wonderful organization and so awesome to be reminded of the extreme power of love and friendship and how it fuels your heart and can heal you and bring you from the deepest valleys. I know sweet Bella is in heaven beaming with pride at us all. I so wish she were here to hug and kiss but I know that she is in paradise. Thank you so very much to Team Bella for another very successful race!