By Claire Nana
Marjory Stoneman Douglas Bella Brown and Angelo Almonte know firsthand the effects of a cancer diagnosis.
Both juniors, Angelo was diagnosed with pediatric cancer, just two weeks after the MSD school shooting, Bella, his best friend, saw how it affected his family’s lives.
Now they would like to help other families battling cancer by granting their Christmas wish lists.
“Everything gets put aside,” said Christina Almonte, Angelo’s mother. “Simple things get overlooked as everything revolves around the child who has cancer.”
It was around that time that Angelo and his family became aware of the Anthony Rizzo Foundation.
Rizzo himself grew up in Parkland, graduated from MSD, and was drafted at 17 by the Boston Red Sox. However, shortly after, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He recovered, but his experience of how a cancer diagnosis affects a person, and their family did not leave him.
Now his foundation focuses on giving back. “They help with mortgage payments, car payments, even parking at the hospital, which adds up,” said Christina. “And of course, they help with treatment as well.”
For Angelo, the Rizzo Foundation helped with many of the daily hardships that cancer brings.
Last year, during COVID-19, Angelo and Bella had the idea of giving back to families who were battling cancer. “The first year, they helped six families,” said Christina.
The two granted wish lists for children battling cancer and included their siblings. Christina describes how Bella saw Angelo’s younger sister was being affected. “So much focus is on the kid who is sick that the other one’s needs get overlooked.”
This year, Bella and Angelo have adopted 17 families from the Rizzo Foundation, including 46 children.
The wish lists, which come directly from the children, include everything from bicycles and sneakers to Playstations and Mario Bros socks. For Bella and Angelo, Almonte says it makes them so happy to see the difference they can make in a family’s life.
Bella and Angelo ask for help through donations or by purchasing directly from the families’ wish lists at www.amazon.com.
Donations can also be made through their GoFundMe. Gifts will then be delivered to Anthony and Bella and delivered directly to the kids.
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