Community Raises Money for Bella Tucker Fund with Circus

Chris Caesar

Londonderry Times

Fresh on the heels of her home makeover, 9-year-old Londonderry resident Bella Tucker had another treat waiting for her last weekend: her very own circus.

Last weekend's "Circus for Bella" was aimed primarily at raising money for the South Elementary School student, who lost her limbs to infectious disease earlier this year.

But organizer Ola Lessard said the group was determined to offer an affordable, professional-level performance that residents would enjoy, bringing performers from groups such as Cirque du Soleil, Ringling Brothers, Chicago's Midnight Circus and Circus Smirkus.

Circus For Bella Tucker Unicycle ActCircus clown Troy Wunderle gets a hand from audience members during a unicycle act during the Circus for Bella show at Stockbridge Theatre in Derry on Saturday."When we put on the show, we really wanted...to keep the ticket prices low, make sure concessions were affordable," she said. "We wanted to make sure we had a show everyone could come to, to show (the Tucker family) their support and raise as much money as possible."

Bella attended the circus with her family at the afternoon show.

One of the two shows, held at Pinkerton Academy's Stockbridge Theatre, was sold out, while the other was nearly at capacity, Lessard said.

While the exact figures were yet to be tallied by press time, Lessard estimated that just under 900 people attended each event. Lessard said ticket sales most likely raised about $14,000 for the Bella Tucker Fund.

The group also held a "mystery prize extravaganza," where audience members could participate in a Yankee Swap organized by volunteers. Those making a donation of $20 could select a wrapped gift, varying in value from $25 up to $1,000.

Lessard said the extravaganza's 100 gifts were sold out before the first performance began. Between that and concession sales, the group brought in another $2,500 for Bella's family.

On top of their contributions, attendees enjoyed performances by some of New England's most talented trapeze artists, unicyclists and comedians.

Even Bella's brother Armando was called on stage to participate in a clown's balancing act on an increasingly tall - and teetering - pile of objects.

"(Bella) had a great big smile on during the whole show," Lessard beamed.

Lessard also took care to thank local businesses, whose support was instrumental in providing prizes, concessions and other services for the non-profit event.

"A lot of larger chains aren't able to give to things like this, because they have to go to corporate, and their hands are tied," she said. "But over and over again, the small businesses in this community get asked to help with things and they do it. It warms my heart every single time, especially in this economy."

For more information on Bella and her recovery, visit http://bellatucker.org.


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