Lizzie Bell, who spent a large part of her life being treated at the University of Arizona Medical Center because of a rare blood disorder, announced the creation of an endowment in her name that she hopes will become a major source of money to help seriously ill children.
Bell, who turns 20 next month, donated $25,000 from her Lizzie Loot Cookie Sales to the Lizzie Bell Endowment, which will use the money and future donations to fund various projects, primarily in the field of pediatric hematology and marrow transplantation. Her Lizzie Loot program raises money to provide toys to children being treated at UAMC.
The announcement came at a celebration at the Jim Click Hall of Champions at McKale Center on Friday.
By July 15, organizers hope to raise $500,000 for the endowment through a nationwide campaign aimed at businesses and corporations. The ultimate goal is to raise at least $30 million, said Lizzie’s mother, Kathy Flores Bell.
The Bell family, along with relatives, friends, and the medical center’s staff who tended to Lizzie since birth, joined the festivities Friday.
Kathy Flores Bell, along with Lizzie, invited the public to contribute to the endowment, and help make a difference to pediatric research.
Lizzie underwent a lifesaving bone marrow transplant at University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis in July. The young woman and her mother returned to Minneapolis over the weekend, where Lizzie continues treatment as an outpatient.
She was born with Diamond-Blackfan anemia, a disorder that prevented her body from producing sufficient red blood cells. Bell’s transplant was made possible because of a donor who lives in Europe.
Up until last year, Bell required blood transfusions every two weeks, requiring her to stay in the hospital for days during the treatment.
She and her family have raised funds for research, sponsored blood and bone-marrow drives and educated the public about the urgent need for bone marrow donors. The family became known worldwide in 2009 when the ABC reality show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” practically tore down the family’s home and built a new one.
For more information about the endowment and fundraisers to help children with medically-complex needs go to www.lizziebell.org