MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Hundreds of self-proclaimed “Bella Believers” gathered Thursday for the viewing of Bella Rodriguez-Torres, a 10-year-old who died after a lengthy battle with cancer earlier this week.
Some people waited in line at the Caballero Rivero Woodlawn Funeral Home in Kendall for an hour to see the girl one last time, and to pay their respects to her family.
“It’s really a celebration of life we have going on here,” her uncle, Ralph Rodrigues-Torres, told CBS 4’s Lauren Pastrana. “Bella’s life has impacted so many people.”
“There’s a lot of tears, but there’s also a lot of smiles and joy and I think that’s what we take away from this is to live like Bella. That’s how we’re going to remember her,” family friend Paul Zamek said.
Bella was diagnosed with cancer when she was four years old. At the time, doctors gave her about five months to live.
She lived for six more years after that, enduring grueling treatment while always maintaining her positive attitude.
“Bella will never have another chest tube. She’ll never have another IV. She’ll never have chemo again,” her uncle said with a smile. “Bella didn’t lose her battle with cancer. Bella received the reward of eternal life.”
A family built on faith and surrounded by friends, the Rodriguez-Torres family shared Bella’s story with the world via social media.
On Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, the motto “Live Like Bella” spread rapidly.
The three words are reminder to savor life like Bella did.
The young girl loved the Miami Heat and Mickey Mouse.
She once served as an honorary police chief in the City of Miami.
Bella’s bravery prompted officers to plan a 3-day bike ride in her honor next week. Some officers will shave their heads in anticipation of the journey from Miami to Key West.
“She was always about helping others. That’s what live like Bella is all about,” Sgt. Javier Ortiz said. “Fortunately, I was able to be part of that.”
Students at one local school wore red Thursday as a tribute to Bella. It was her favorite color.
“Some people are happy because she’s up in Heaven. Sometimes, it’s sad because they’ll never see her again,” Aly Zamek said. “But she won’t miss you because she can see you from Heaven.
Bella’s funeral is set for Friday at 1 p.m. at St. John Neumann Catholic Church.
In lieu of flowers, you can donate to help fund childhood cancer research by visiting www.bella2013.com.
The family said the outpouring of support has been overwhelming.
“It’s a treasure, a treasure that we have, to know that this little child of ten years old has been able to make such an impact in this difficult world that we live in,” Ralph Rodriguez-Torres said.