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Ring the bell for Bella
Bull fighters raise funds for local cancer patient
Oyster Bar pic1
Michael Lopes 'rings the bell for Bella' in front of the Oyster Bar food stand at the Stanislaus County Fair. The bell is rang every time a donation is made to Bella, a local 6-year-old fighting cancer. - photo by RYAN MCLAUGHLIN/The Journal

If you have taken a stroll through the Stanislaus County fairgrounds this past week you may have noticed a bell ringing occasionally near the exhibit buildings. That bell signifies hope, hope in the form of donations for a girl named Bella.

Bella was diagnosed with child acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow, on Jan. 14. At only six years old, Bella is now fighting against the most common type of cancer found in children.

Members of a local Portuguese bullfighting group called Forcados Luso-Americanos are trying to raise money for Bella and her family.

“We just wanted to give back, whether that be to sick kids, elderly or really just anyone in need,” said Michael Lopes, a member of Forcados Luso-Americanos. “A few of our members are family friends of Bella and her family so when we heard about her story we knew we had to help.”

The group is operating an oyster bar at this year’s Stanislaus County Fair where a water cooler for donations sits alongside the stand with pictures of Bella and a large bell.

“We thought the bell would be a great way to get people involved and encourage people to donate,” said Lopes.

For every donation given, the person who made the donation is welcome to ring the bell for Bella. The group has taken to social media in hopes of raising awareness for their cause by using hash tags such as #GFALA and #ringthebellforbella, raising over $2,000 for the family since the fair began.

“We’re really just trying to get the word out there for Bella and her family (…) everything we raise will go straight to the family,” said Lopes.

Before the fair began, Bella underwent her first session of chemo therapy to try and get rid of her cancer. So while Bella may not be able to make it to the fair this year, she will be there in spirit with every ring of the Oyster Bar's bell.