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November 6, 2013
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Transplant patient Bella Stone designs Nike shoes to tell her story

Doctors were unsure whether Bella Stone would survive when she was born with one kidney and underdeveloped lungs.

Ten years and 20 surgeries later, Bella is a bundle of energy who loves to sing show tunes and hopes one day to be a doctor or singer or an actor or all three. This year, she became a shoe designer.

Bella represents her medical struggles and her triumph over them in the details of a pair of hot pink Nike shoes she designed this year for a fundraiser for Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland. Her “Brave Bella” shoes, along with a matching T-shirt and sweatshirt, drew $20,000 at a September auction. The shoes will go on sale at stores and online Nov. 23.

Bella, a Roseburg resident who is a fourth-grader at Sutherlin West Intermediate School, was one of seven children who designed the Freestyle Collection for the fundraiser this year. Over the past 10 years, young shoe designers like Bella have raised $8 million for the hospital.

The heels of Bella’s Nike creations are marked with “B’s” for Bella surrounded by 20 hearts, one for each of her surgeries. A pink heart on each shoe contains a bean-shaped kidney commemorating her transplant.

The words “Brave Bella” appear on the tongue of one shoe.

Her mother, Jessica Stone, 39, said Bella was nominated as a shoe designer by Doernbecher nephrologist David Rozansky.

“He’s known her since she was 2 days old, so he’s always known how much of a fighter she was,” Stone said.

Bella had a rough start in life. She had so little amniotic fluid in the womb that doctors said she would likely be stillborn. Born blue and quiet, fighting for breath, she was rushed by ambulance to Doernbecher.

When she was 2, she received a kidney from her aunt, Christina Jackson.

Before the kidney transplant she received food through a gastronomy tube, or G-tube. Afterward she ate on her own.

“She wouldn’t even start with baby food. She went right to regular food,” Jessica Stone said.

Bella kept the G-tube for medications and extra fluids until about two years ago when it was finally removed.

When Bella was about 6 months old, doctors placed a full-body cast on her for three months because her hips were malformed. Jessica Stone said doctors thought Bella might never walk. Until she was 3, Bella got around by moving like a crab.

Jessica Stone, 39, said she and her husband, Shane Stone, 42, have leaned on faith throughout Bella’s life.

“She was a product of prayer when she was born and she still is,” Jessica Stone said.

Faith is one of Bella’s favorite words. It appears along with three other favorites — love, dream and hope — on the soles of the shoes she designed.

Rainbow colors on the Nike swoosh and the shoe’s interior also hold special meaning for the Stone family.

Jessica Stone said when she was struggling, she would ask God for a sign — a rainbow.

“I needed some hope, something I could cling to, He would give me a rainbow every time,” she said.

Bella loves to perform songs from Broadway musicals or the film “High School Musical,” so her shoes have pictures of microphones on the sides.

She chose her colors from among thousands of swatches offered by Nike designers who helped her create her signature shoe, making most of the shoe her favorite shade of pink. Jessica Stone said the designers took Bella through the design process from drawings to prototypes, ensuring the shoe was made exactly the way she wanted.

“These are all my favorite colors and all my favorite details,” Bella said.

• You can reach reporter Carisa Cegavske at 541-957-4213 or ccegavske@nrtoday.com.


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The News-Review Updated Nov 7, 2013 05:10PM Published Nov 8, 2013 03:58PM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.