Youngster's illness inspired a community

One of the feel-good stories of the year played itself out last weekend up in Londonderry, N.H., where 8-year-old Bella Tucker was introduced to her new home.

Bella's dream of being a gymnast was derailed forever after she lost all four of her limbs to a catastrophic infection. But she returned to a community that is changed forever, as well, through an outpouring of donations of time, equipment, skill and money that provided Bella and her family with a home that will help them face the challenges ahead.

Bella became ill on Easter Sunday, April 4. With her temperature soaring, her stepfather, Peter Roarty, brought her to a nearby hospital. From there, she was airlifted to Children's Hospital Boston.

Doctors initially thought she had meningitis but then diagnosed her with streptococcus pneumonia sepsis — a potentially fatal infection that cuts off blood circulation to the extremities.

She survived after doctors put her into a coma for five days, but the damage to her arms and legs was too serious to save them. She underwent eight surgeries to amputate all four limbs.

As word of her plight spread, the community stepped in. A series of contributions and fundraisers blossomed into a major construction project at the family's home. It began with a plan to build an outside ramp and turned into a 2,400-square-foot addition, complete with separate garage, indoor elevator and a physical therapy room with state-of-the-art equipment.

More than 300 tradesmen and 30 businesses participated with labor and materials. A handicapped-accessible van was also donated.

Her parents, both flight attendants with JetBlue, are overwhelmed with thankfulness in the midst of tragedy, knowing their family will not face their struggles alone. It made "community" much more than a mere word.
Courtesy: The Salem News