Everyday Heroes: Young cancer survivor gives back

SUCCASUNNA -

Bella Reilly spent her early life battling and overcoming leukemia, and when a school assignment called on students to give back to their community, she says memories of her treatment inspired her solution.

Bella underwent treatments at the Goryeb Children's Oncology Unit in Morristown for three years. During that time, she says between painful procedures, the highlights of her days involved getting new toys from the unit's "treasure chest."

"That was pretty much actually the only thing I do remember," she says. "Just going to the treasure chest and having that happy feeling after long days of treatment -- after a spinal tap, or bone marrow infusion. Just forgetting all of it, going, getting a toy."

So for a civics class project at Eisenhower Middle School, Bella says she immediately wanted to create a new chest.

"I figured, OK, we'll do a dance," she says. "Admission would be you give a toy. You get in. And all the proceeds would go to the treasure chest."

The school-wide dance, dubbed Bella's Ball, collected about 200 toys and other items. Nurses say the donations will last a long time.

"When you're going through something so difficult, as she did, and you look at where she is now, it provides hope and such a positive outlook for people,"  says Heather Roddy, one of Bella's teachers.

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