Ariella turned 12 in Heaven yesterday, October 2, 2019. In honor of her birthday we had a birthday event over the weekend at our local Build-a-Bear store. We invited friends, family, and all supporters to come join us at Build a Bear to donate to Ari’s Bears. We knew a lot of people would attend but the actual turnout surpassed anything that I imagined. The line was out the door most of the event yet no one complained. One family that didn’t know us saw the line, asked what was going on, and then chose to stand in that line to donate bears as well. We were beyond touched to see this show of support. But not only were they supporting us and Ari’s Bears, they were continuing Ariella’s legacy and proving to us and everyone else that Ariella truly was an inspiration, that she inspired and continues to inspire others to do good. When all was said and done we came home with over 160 bears ready to be delivered to sick children.
To celebrate Ariella’s birthday on the actual day friends and family gathered at the cemetery to write messages to Ariella and then light them on fire to send to her. There was sadness and tears but also smiles, as we all remembered the beautiful soul that left us way too soon. We wanted to do a lantern release but lanterns are banned in Maryland because they are a fire hazard. But I think this was a little more special anyway, because we got to right down whatever we wanted, maybe things we never got the chance to say, and send them floating up to her. As they fired burned down the paper the paper then floated up before burning up completely. There was a butterfly on a tree that stayed the entire time that we were there as well, I’m sure sent by her (and maybe my father whose grave is next to Ariella’s and whose birthday is today, October 3).
We have a lot of exciting events coming up and are expanding our mission to include funding for pediatric cancer research. Make sure you stay tuned!