Two years ago, Bella Rodriguez-Torres died at 10 of rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare childhood cancer she battled for six years. The lessons she taught her friends and family continue to live on through the Live Like Bella Childhood Cancer Foundation.
“What Live Like Bella really means is to care for others —that’s what Bella taught us,” said Raymond Rodriguez-Torres, her father and chairman of the foundation.
The motto, inspired by Bella herself, means to live life to the fullest. After she passed away, LeBron James and Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat wrote “Live Like Bella” on their shoes during the NBA Eastern Conference Finals.
In September, the Live Like Bella Foundation partnered with Are You Kidding, a Miami sock business run by two young brothers, Sebastian and Brandon Martinez.
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Sebastian, 7, and Brandon, 9, designed Live Like Bella socks, complete with Bella’s handwriting. The socks were part of a campaign to raise awareness of childhood cancer during September, which is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
Part of the campaign included “sock hops,” which involved people around the U.S. dancing in Live Like Bella socks and sharing photos and videos on social media with the hashtag #LiveLikeBella. The foundation also sponsored live sock hops across Miami-Dade on Sept. 25.
“We partnered up with Live Like Bella so we could help pediatric cancer so no one has pediatric cancer again,” said Sebastian, CEO of Are You Kidding. Brandon is sales director.
The campaign was successful, with thousands of people wearing and dancing in Live Like Bella socks. Are You Kidding partnered with local schools to host sock hops and sell socks to the schools. The three schools that sold the most socks and had Live Like Bella sock hops were Pinecrest Academy South Charter School, Pinecrest Preparatory Academy and Sunset Park Elementary.
“It was heartwarming to see Bella’s handwriting on all these socks and to see the community come together in the fight against childhood cancer,” Rodriguez-Torres said.
According to Rachel Martinez, president of Are You Kidding and Sebastian and Brandon’s mother, they couldn’t keep up with the demand for Live Like Bella Socks.
“I had to put in rush orders for more socks,” she said. “The amount of support that we got was incredible, we hope to be able to double it next year.”
Are You Kidding and the Live Like Bella Foundation are already making plans to host more sock hops and launch another Live Like Bella campaign together next September.
The Live Like Bella Foundation has funded 500 clinical trials and is working on building a Live Like Bella pavilion in Miami Children’s Hospital where 40 families will be able to stay at a time while their children are getting treatment.
Live Like Bella socks are available for $10 a pair at areyoukidding.net and at all Miami-Dade Navarro locations.