"Help others as you would help yourself." –Noah Bella
Noah Bella Michaelis was born with complex congenital heart defects and Heterotaxy Syndrome. She’s been through four open heart surgeries, multiple cardiac catheterization procedures, and has been hospitalized many times throughout her life. Yet, during all of her challenges, she has focused on helping other heart families by raising money through her “Noah’s Festival of Life” and her lemonade stands. To date, she has raised $65,000 for the Hopeful Hearts Foundation and has helped families throughout the U.S. Her efforts have awarded her the title of Junior Ambassador for the Hopeful Hearts Foundation.
It all started after we threw a party to celebrate her recovery of her 4th heart surgery. Noah wished nothing more than to celebrate her homecoming with a carnival-like festival in her backyard full of games and cotton candy among all her friends and family. It was a day for all of us to celebrate life together and to be thankful for the countless support from all of our friends and family. We called this celebration “Noah’s Festival of Life.”
The following year, we wanted to have another celebration but Noah asked if we could give back to other heart kids. She remembered how she received a gift bag on Valentine’s Day from the Hopeful Heats Foundation, while hospitalized after her 4th surgery, at the age of five. She felt so special to receive this from someone she didn’t know and, as parents, we were amazed how a care package could take us away from what we were up against. Noah wanted other heart kids to feel this love and support.
Since then, we have expanded Noah's Festival of Life into a fundraising effort that includes a silent auction and raffle aimed to help heart families across the country with financial assistance for their extended stays. The funds raised paid for things not covered by insurance, such as, hotel accommodation, airline tickets, food, parking fees, bills, etc. Between Festivals, Noah raises money through her lemonade stands.
In 2015, Noah made it her goal to try and make a larger impact on the CHD community. She joined with advocates across the country and spoke to legislators on Capitol Hill about CHD and how crucial it was to get their support for research and prevention. She spoke with CA congressman, Brad Sherman, on behalf of the Pediatric Congenital Heart Association to help push for the eventual passing of $10.0 million in FY2016. The combined outreach by all the advocates helped secure the budget for the Center for Disease Control and National Institute of Health, in support of surveillance and public health research to build upon current activities and to better understand the public health impact of congenital heart disease across the lifespan.
To date, Noah’s fundraising has helped over 100+ families. The money helps ease the difficulties parents and their children go through and lets them know there’s someone out there thinking of them. Her efforts remain steadfast to help children living with CHD and to be a leader in the movement against the number one birth defect worldwide.
Noah is an avid reader. Her favorite books to read are mystery/adventure stories like the classic Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys, to Mary Pope Osborne’s The Magic Treehouse series. Sherlock Holmes is a known favorite. Wildwood and Mr. Lemoncello’s Library are also top favs. Her love for stories has propelled her to become an amazing writer of adventurous short stories. Noah loves board games as well so if she isn’t reading, she’ll be playing Settlers of Katan, Machi Koro, or Star Wars Monopoly with her parents and friends. Playing Minecraft is also a fun favorite along with point and click adventures from King’s Quest to Broken Age—and she’s always up to challenging someone in a good game of chess! Noah also loves learning about animals and is amazed by the diversity of species out there. All this learning is to one day help her become an animal rescuer and conservationist!