2019 Walk to End Lupus Now, Atlanta

Bella Vita

Hi, my name is Bella Rocchio. I am 14 years old, and this is my story.

My mom was diagnosed with lupus 7 years ago. I was only 6, but I can still remember the times I would go to work with her at the hospital. She would be off delivering babies, giving life, and I would be coloring. On the way back, we would listen to Madonna in her convertible with the top down. Aahh, those were the days.... Then one day, she didn't get out of bed. All the energy was drained from her and she could eat very little. She couldn't go to work- and she wouldn't again. The fight had only begun.

Lupus is a dehabilitating disease, as I learned first hand. I didn't understand what had happened when she first got sick- all I noticed was that now, Daddy took me everywhere and Mommy was always in bed. My little 6 year old brain couldn't grasp it. But now I understand. I understand that she can't get out of bed sometimes and can't eat most foods without throwing up. I understand that I should avoid asking the question 'Hey Mom can you come to my soccer game?' or 'Can you get ice cream with us?' because the answer will always be no. I understand that she can not do most of the things that other moms can do, and that is because of lupus.

I started to realize that my mom wasn't going to get any better in 5th grade, and I felt like I had to do something. So I held my first fundraiser at my elementary school's October Fall Festival. My best friend Britt and I came up with a plan: we were going to see who could guess the amount of candy corn in the jar. Each guess was $1. We called it Candycorn for Lupus. I still have the sign- it is hanging on the wall in my bedroom. At the end of the day, we had raised exactly $482! I found out about the 2015 lupus walk just 3 weeks before and I managed to raise $1,300. In 2016 and 2017, I was more prepared. I reached out to everyone and held bake sales at my school. All the kids loved it! In 2016, I raised $5,914 and in 2017, I raised $7,055.14. Last year I demolished my $8,000 goal and raised over $10,500!! This year I would like to keep climbing. My goal is $12,000.

Help me cure lupus, a disease that has caused my family so much pain. Help me end the suffering of millions and the millions more who have to watch their loved ones suffer. So please, help me win this fight: help me solve the cruel mystery of lupus.

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