Welcome Home Party and Circus Event for Bella Tucker
Preparations continue for a welcome home party in honor of a Londonderry third-grader whose battle with a rare form of pneumonia has rallied the support of residents throughout New England.
Bella Tucker, 9, was hospitalized and spent five days in a coma last April, and underwent surgery to remove her limbs - and save her life - later that month.
But now, after months of work, the third grader is going back to school part time, undergoing rehabilitative therapy and being fitted with prostheses, neighbor Tammy Kozlowski said.
"She's doing really well, getting back to her old personality," she said.
Though her family has lived in a hotel for about two months while their home undergoes modifications for wheelchair accessibility, the family plans to return - with great fanfare - on Nov. 7.
"We're throwing a big block party for anyone that wants to welcome them home," Kozlowski said. "Over 300 people helped with the makeover of the home, and we want to honor them, too."
Events will include food donations from local restaurants and a DJ, she said. While the party will remain outdoors, visitors may see the new addition to the Tucker home - built with approximately $300,000 in donations raised by the Berry Fund by Londonderry resident and Suffolk Construction executive Anthony Nigro.
Tucker's family have been touched by the outpouring of support by the community, including less glamorous gestures, like classmates donating their allowance money or conducting fundraisers at their school.
"One thing that really surprised me were the kids, and the kids doing their own things," Kozlowski said. "That was a little overwhelming. There were a lot of people that stood up, but the kids definitely stood out."
In addition to the welcome home party, a dozen performers from Cirque de Soleil, Ringling Brothers, the Midnight Circus, Circus Smirkus and other entertainers will perform a variety of circus acts to raise money for the Bella Tucker Fund on Saturday, Nov. 20, with performances at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Stockbridge Theatre on the campus of Pinkerton Academy in Derry.
"This is a tremendous opportunity to see some really amazing circus acts," organizer Ola Lessard said. "We've got nationally acclaimed trapeze artists, aerialists, jugglers and clowns, and even some amazing youth performers."
The evening will also include a "Mystery Prize Extravaganza," where participants may pick out a wrapped gift - at a cost of anywhere from $30 to $1,000 - for a $20 ticket.
Admission is $14 per person, with group pricing of $10 a ticket for groups of four or more.