“Precious one-year-old Isabella "Bella" Pollard has a cancerous neuroblastoma in her abdomen.”
This message has been Facebooked, emailed and tweeted across the United States, and even overseas. Tim Keller, a prominent Christian author, re-tweeted bopollard’s “My 1 yr old baby Bella is battling CANCER and needs surgery. PLEASE RT, help tell her story.”
So who is Bella and why is she receiving so much support?
Isabella Pollard is one of the top fundraisers on GiveForward.com, a site created to help families raise money for major medical expenses. The site has raised nearly $7,260,000 to date for various medical expenses and other causes.
The fundraiser for Bella began in July, after Bo and Noel Pollard learned their 1-year-old daughter had been diagnosed with stage 3, possibly stage 4, cancer. Bo Pollard had just earned a degree in respiratory therapy and was seeking a job. Noel Pollard, pregnant with the couple’s second child, was on maternity leave from her job as a nurse.
Jamie Dieringer, a friend of the Pollards who attends their church, created a GiveForward page for the family, in order to raise $50,000 needed to pay for Bella’s treatment. The page has raised $32,682 as of press time.
“I John 3:17 says, ‘But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?’” Dieringer said in an email to The Christian Post. “Families undergoing this much emotional pressure should not have to worry about the financial burdens as well.”
The GiveForward page for Bella notes that Bo and Noel are active members of Hawaii Kai Church. Christians around the world have taken note, sending in donations ranging from around $2 (from an 11-year-old boy who donated his lunch money) to $5,000, along with messages like: "Sending prayers and encouragement. Bella is absolutely precious! God bless you all,” from Oliver B.
An anonymous donor said, "May all who suffer pain, illness or disease realize that they are chosen to be saints, and know that they are joined to Christ in his suffering for the salvation of the world, who lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”
"Best wishes from Norway,” an anonymous donor overseas wrote.
"This might not be the biggest donation ever, but it's what I can afford. I hope all the good in the world for your baby, these things should not happen to little angels like her. I don't belive in God, but as the saying goes … it can't hurt. God bless her, and you have my prayers for her,” said another anonymous donor.
Bella’s GiveForward page includes details, how to donate and updates to her current medical status. This month, her parents said on the site, Bella completed her fourth round of chemotherapy, which is administered through a line in her chest, because the tumor is attached to several major organs. The family has also received approval from the insurance company to proceed with surgery at Children’s Hospital in Boston, and Jackson, Bella’s baby brother, is due Nov. 1. The last update, on Oct. 19, shared even more encouraging news:
“Bella's doctor called and told us that Bella's tumor has had a significant reduction in size. The tumor now has shrunk 50% and is putting less pressure on her major blood vessels and organs! What an answer to prayer!!! Thank you for all of your prayers and thank you Lord for answering them!!!!”
Bella is among one of the many success stories with GiveForward. Heather W. raised more than $21,000 for her friend’s 9-month-old daughter battling a rare brain tumor. Friends and family of Johan G. helped raise $88,000 for his renal cancer treatment.
GiveForward began when Desiree Vargas Wrigley wanted to create a company that allowed small-scale donors to have a bigger say in where their donations were going. She was disappointed that the only way to raise money online was if you were a nonprofit.
So, in early 2008 she set out to create a site that would let anyone raise money for anything, the site explains. Around the same time, Ethan Austin, who ran in a marathon for a major nonprofit, thought there should be an easy way for marathon runners to raise money for any charity, not just the registered partners. A mutual friend introduced Desiree and Ethan, and within a couple months they had formed GiveForward. The site has received coverage from the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, ABC and a host of other news outlets.
“There are no small causes on GiveForward. I know that sounds cheesy but it is true,” said Cate Conroy, director of marketing for GiveForward, in an email to CP. “We have no minimum goal amount for a fundraiser, though if a fundraiser does not raise $50 we refund any money that was donated.”
“As for Isabella Pollard's story … [it is] a perfect example of the goal of GiveForward – we want to be a way for friends and family to answer to the question ‘What can I do to help?’ when a loved one is in need.”