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Benefit carries on legacy of ‘hilarious’ Virginia girl remembered as ‘heart of the family’

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Posted at 6:20 PM, May 12, 2023

MECHANICSVILLE, Va. -- A Mechanicsville family who lost their child to an infection while battling cancer is continuing to give back as a testament to her memory.

Chrissy Francesca remembers her 11-year-old daughter, Bella, as hilarious, quick-witted and very giving.

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Jake Francesca said his twin sister known as "Sweet Bella" was "always nice giving, loving, caring."

"She was everything," he said, recalling memories of her. "I told her to climb at hers and come into mine. And then when she got into mine, I yelled and told my mom that she got out of her crib."

Jake Francesca
Jake Francesca

Chrissy Francesca said her daughter made a big impact in a short time.

"I don't care if you were two or your're 102 -- she just had a general love for people," Chrissy Francesca recalled.

While in remission for leukemia, the treatment weakened her immune system, and the 11-year-old died of an infection last August.

"I laugh every day and I cry every day," Chrissy Francesca said. "There are days I beg her to take me with her. I just want to hear her voice -- say she's OK."

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The family home is now covered in mementos to her life. Some from family, others from friends and supporters who followed along with Bella's journey on Facebook.

"I've said this a million times, I'm grateful that I can still feel grateful, right?" Chrissy Francesca said of the support.

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But even Bella's challenges of battling cancer, Chrissy Francesca said her daughter was always concerned about how others were doing.

"She was she was such a trooper. She didn't complain the whole time. She thought of others, she worried about me not crying, [Jake] not crying," said mom."She just always giving to the next person. I mean, her -- that's how her mind works like 24/7."

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And the family is working to carry on the legacy of giving back and have taken part in several cancer fundraisers in her name and are now hosting one of their own.

This Saturday the Francescas are hosting A Gift for Bella Day with all proceeds going to support the family of Kennedy Keane.

The 9-year-old and Bella became friends as both were diagnosed with the same caner. Keane marked two years since her diagnosis on Thursday.

"[Bella] was really happy, kind, friendly," said Kennedy.

"[Bella] loved to dance, sing," added her mom, Athena.

Chrissy said she's proud of the fight Kennedy has put up and wants to give back -- saying her family helped them understanding Bella's diagnosis.

"She helped me in a way that I don't think she realizes she helped me. She helped me prepare," added Chrissy.

And Kennedy's mom, Athena, said she is grateful that Bella's family is continuing on her legacy.

"We will never forget about Bella. She's in our hearts forever."

And while this may be the first fundraiser in Bella's honor, Chrissy said it will not be their last.

"We just tried to continue on with random acts of kindness and Bella's honor and we are thinking forward in more fundraisers but we're just we're just getting started," Chrissy Francesca said.

The event is Saturday, May 13 from 12-3 p.m. at the Milestone Club House.

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