LONDONDERRY — A dozen or so Blue Lions cheerleaders whooped and waved as Bella Tucker's blue van turned into the
driveway of her Lantern Lane home Sunday afternoon.
Bella rolled down the van's ramp and up the walkway in her self-powered wheelchair as more than 300 neighbors, friends and well-wishers broke into a thundering applause and the song "(You're Amazing) Just the Way You Are" by Bruno Mars blared from loudspeakers.
Bella was finally home.
As Bella made her way onto the farmer's porch, her stepfather Peter Roarty's voice cracked as he thanked everyone.
Selena Tucker Roarty also thanked the crowd and people who made everything possible, but she gave her biggest thanks to her daughter.
"Thank you, Bella," she said. "You are the strongest, the most beautiful girl. Every day, I learned something from you."
The 9-year-old South Londonderry Elementary School student became ill on Easter Sunday and was rushed to Boston Children's Hospital with a life-threatening illness, streptococcus pneumonia sepsis, that resulted in quadruple amputations. The budding gymnast was soon fighting the battle of her young life as she spent months in Children's Hospital and then in Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, also in Boston.
As her parents and four siblings kept vigil by Bella's bedside, the entire community rallied around them.
Multiple fundraisers were held, a website set up, a collection started at her school, and a group of architects and builders began renovating Bella's home for her return.
Tony Nigro, a Londonderry resident and project executive of Suffolk Construction Company, gathered a team of designers from Cube 3 Studio in Lawrence and with donations from many local companies and 300 volunteers, a 2,500-square-foot addition was built onto the family's existing house.
"We doubled the size of the house," Nigro said. "In addition to the two-level suite for Bella, we renovated the rest of the house to accommodate her."