Dear Siggi (FYSA Staff Member):
Foremost, I trust this message finds you well. It was wonderful to see you and the team at South Eastern University for the ODP camp.
We wanted to express what a wonderful experience Rayna enjoyed at the camp. In addition to learning a lot about herself as a player and valuable insights on how to continue to develop, this camp was that much more meaningful for Rayna and us.
Yesterday marked six years exactly from when our oldest daughter Bella, Rayna's older sister, died of cancer after a six year battle. When Bella was only four years old, she suddenly became paralyzed overnight without symptoms or warning. She was diagnosed with stage four cancer and it was believed that Bella would never walk again and perhaps had a life of expectancy of weeks to months. This was not only devastating to us as her parents but in a particular way for Rayna who was only two years old at the time. By the grace of God and extraordinary treatment, Bella miraculously regained the ability to walk, run, and jump. She LIVED and battled her disease valiantly for six years until she passed May 28th 2013 at the age of 10. As you can imagine, having a child battle cancer for so many years took all we had as a family. Practically most of our time was spent traveling to enroll in clinical trials and receiving treatments in and out of the hospital. For Rayna, this meant supporting her sister and for most of her life, what Rayna experienced was seeing her sister sick, without hair and with little time to do anything else as we all scrambled to try to save her life.
When Bella went to heaven, my wife Shannah first enrolled Rayna to play recreational soccer. Rayna was reluctant to play as it didn't interest her much. Nonetheless, in an effort to give her the opportunity to play with a team, possibly make friends and enjoy some exercise, against her will, we enrolled Rayna. What transpired was amazing. Rayna loved soccer, and she was better at it than we could have imagined. She has made incredible friends along the way and learned valuable life lessons on winning, losing, perseverance and leadership.
For Rayna to participate in the ODP camp at the high competitive level, has been such a blessing and a feeling of accomplishment which has brought great joy. She made great friends at camp, had a wonderful time and learned so very much. Perhaps most of all; Coach Nicole's written feedback was the most valuable of all: "Rayna, you belong here." For a child who has been through so much, these words, this experience, was truly invaluably positive.
Thank you and the entire team for all you do for our youth. The camp was nothing short of superb and memory that Rayna nor we as a family will ever forget.
I trust sharing our story is helpful in expressing how what you do is so very meaningful, far beyond the soccer field.
May abundant blessings be upon you and the entire ODP Florida team.
With sincere appreciation and respect,
Raymond Rodriguez-Torres (Bella's Daddy)
About Live Like Bella: Live Like Bella : Live Like Bella™ was founded in June 2013 in memory of Bella, who passed away at the tender age of 10 from Rhabdomyosarcoma, an aggressive childhood cancer. In her six-year battle she inspired millions to #LiveLikeBella and we are dedicated to finding a cure for pediatric cancer by funding innovative pediatric cancer research. Our foundation also provides recreational support for families with children currently in treatment and provides financial assistance for the purchase of a headstone for families who have lost a child to cancer. For more information, visit http://www.livelikebella.org.