Tioga's Bella the Bulldog brings roses, comfort
By Abigail Allen
Bella the Bulldog has started what she hopes will become a tradition to help her fellow Tioga ISD community members feel loved and supported.
Bella has taken the initiative to visit people who are sick or injured to help lift their spirits and let them know they are not alone.
"I lost my grandfather, and I know how hard that was," she said. "I know when people are going through something, they need someone to look up to and who's better than a friendly Bella who can come bring you a rose and come and see you and just show you Tioga's supporting you."
Yvette Rand is proud of the work Bella is doing.
Her visits began with two young Bulldogs—fourth-grader Keslynn Cross and kindergartener Emma Hinson—who had to have their tonsils and adenoids removed, which has caused them to miss school.
"She loves Bella," Bella said of the first girl she visited. "She always wants to go see her at every game, she has her T-shirt, so I [asked], 'What if we go and surprise her and bring her a little rose to give her hope?'"
The result was pure joy.
"It means the world to me," Bella said. "It makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something. It's such a cool feeling."
During the visit, Rand said, Bella gives the person in need of comfort a hug.
"She always leaves a rose—that's kind of like her special hug," Rand said. "And she lets them know to be strong. Tioga Strong. … To those little girls, that was everything."
Bella’s visits aren't just for kids.
She wanted to visit Kelle Hinson, who has been diagnosed with Stage 3 esophageal cancer and Stage 1 colon cancer.
"Bella was wanting to lift Kelle's spirits and show Tioga support is all around," Rand said. "Bella wants to share the message—If we all share our love, be kind and courageous, have hope and faith during our times of need and uncertain moments in life, we will only become unstoppable."
Bella brought her two roses and two ribbons.
"Bella is full of life and I feel it when Bella gives that big ole Bulldog hug," Hinson said. "Nothing better! The kids love Bella.
My granddaughter gets so excited to hug Bella. You can feel the energy Bella has."
The token left behind is intentional in and of itself.
"I just love roses, and I know roses have always been a symbol of love, so it's kind of just that Bella loves you and you can do it and you can get through it," Bella said. "Everyone loves a rose every once in a while."
She's hoping that this is a tradition future Bella’s can continue.
"I'm hoping that, even after I graduate and I leave, that the next Bella can come up and take care of it and still show Tioga support throughout the community," she said.