What to Know
- Over a dozen officers will be joined by the family of Bella Rodriguez-Torres on a 180 mile ride from Miami to Key West to raise funds.
- It is done in partnership with the Live Like Bella organization formed after the courageous flight she put up against childhood cancer.
Three years after the ride’s namesake lost her battle with cancer, over a dozen officers and others from across South Florida began a three day ride in an effort to raise money and awareness in the battle against childhood cancer and to honor the memory of Bella Rodriguez-Torres.
Members of the Miami Police Department and other agencies were joined by Bella’s father, Raymond, before starting on a 180 mile ride for the fourth time overall and the third straight year since the 10-year-old passed away in 2013.
The ride started Wednesday morning in Coconut Grove and will end Friday in Key West, this year being broadcast live on the organization's Facebook page. It is done in partnership with the organization formed after the courageous fight Bella put up against the disease.
Riders hope to raise $70,000 with this year’s ride in total, having raised around $30,000 as of Wednesday morning. The foundation has raised several million since its founding, recently making a $1 million donation to an area hospital to help in the fight for a cure.
"These officers are contributing to a bigger cause than just policing," Miami Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes said. "They're contributing to childhood cancer, they're giving up their time and of their efforts."
Bella’s life made headlines as she continued having a joyful attitude despite constant medical battles. After being paralyzed at the age of four with a large tumor on her spine and being told she had just months to live, Bella regained her ability to walk and fought the disease six more times before her death.
Her parents encouraged everyone to enjoy life and created the social media hashtag #LiveLikeBella, a phrase that went viral and was seen throughout South Florida in the time shortly before her death and afterward.
Former Miami Heat stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade drew national attention to Bella when they put the phrase on their shoes during the 2013 NBA Eastern Conference Finals, a final wish of the young girl who was a fan of the team.
"Bella always wanted to be a police officer," said her father, Raymond Rodriguez-Torres. "I know that while Bella's not here physically, (but) she's certainly with us every pedal of the way."
For more information on the Live Like Bella foundation, click here.