MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Ten members of the Miami Police Department have begun their ride to Key West, more than 160 miles, in honor of a special little girl with a powerful spirit, Bella Rodriguez-Torres.
Bella lost her six year battle with cancer last week. She was just 10 years old. But her story and determination touched thousands of lives through social media. Bella had a special relationship with the Miami police department. She received the Department’s “Do The Right Thing Award”, and they even named her honorary police chief for a day.
Outside Miami Police Headquarters the officers unloaded their bicycles at 6 a.m. and set off, sporadically shouting Bella’s name.
“Today’s ride is for cancer awareness. It’s very unfortunate we lost Bella last week. She’s not going to be here. But we know she’s here with us,” said ride organizer Sgt. Freddie Cruz.
Bella’s father, Raymond Rodriguez-Torres showed up to surprise the officers. He told CBS4’s Natalia Zea that the ride means the world to his family.
“I’m very humbled and inspired to see some of our bravest citizens taking on this task and this great challenge to ride to Key West to benefit children who are suffering and battling cancer,” said Rodriguez-Torres.
Rodriguez-Torres, the officers and many others also shaved their heads to raise money for pediatric cancer research. Many died their heads red, including Bella’s father.
“Bella always wanted to have a red Mohawk, but she spent the majority of her life bald because of her chemotherapy treatments. Since she couldn’t have a red Mohawk, daddy dyed his hair and I had a red Mohawk until I shaved it all last night,” said Rodriguez-Torres.
Zea asked how Rodriguez-Torres and his wife have been able to stay so strong and upbeat, despite the death of their beloved Bella.
“The spirit of “Live Like Bella” is to care for others, that’s what she taught us,” he said. “I’ve learned many lessons from my child and even though she was only 3 foot 9 she packed quite a punch and she taught me perhaps the greatest lesson of the fact that it’s not the weight of the load that breaks us, but how we choose to carry it.”
Officers have raised more than $80,000 in their goal to raise $100,000 for childhood cancer research. To learn more Click Here.