Nine-year-old Isabella Fricker, or Bella, loves American Girl dolls.
So much so, she recently started a business making bracelets to raise money to buy the dolls for children with childhood cancer.
The dolls are special, though — like the little girls they go to, they have no hair and they’re dressed in hospital gowns.
While the Forsyth County resident has not had cancer herself, her mother, Vivian Fricker, said Bella has multiple classmates and acquaintances who have had the disease.
“About four years ago, [Bella] had a classmate’s sister that had neuroblastoma [cancer] and she ended up passing away,” Fricker said. “We did know the family — Bella had been at a birthday party where Lily had helped — and even though she was only 5, that has really impacted her.
“She named everything Lily from thereon out, we got a puppy she named Lily — I mean, it really impacted her.”
That was four years ago, but Lily never faded from Bella’s mind, especially after three other acquaintances were diagnosed with various forms of childhood cancer.
“She’s unfortunately somehow had these children cross her path,” Fricker said.
But for Bella, the children inspired her to make and sell bracelets, aptly named “Peace, Love, Bracelets.”
“One day I was just in my room making bracelets and I just made a sign that said Peace, Love, Bracelets on this piece of paper,” she said.
“My mom came up and she said, ‘what are you doing?’ and I was like, ‘I’m making some bracelets and I want to make a company out of this.’”
“I’m saving enough money to get American Girl dolls that are bald and giving it to little kids going through chemo in the hospital,” she added. “Some of my friends have had cancer and two have died from it and I just wanted to do make them feel better while they’re in the hospital.”
Bella said she sells each bracelet for $3 to $5 and so far, has raised enough money — solely from bracelet sales — to buy three dolls.
“Once I get enough money to buy a doll, we go purchase and order an American Girl and they just ship it to us,” she said.
“She tries to give [patients] a brown eyed one, if they have blue eyes, she tries to give them a blue-eyed one, [but] we often don’t know what the child’s going to look like until we get there,” Fricker said.
Fricker also said while the hospital gowns are more difficult to come by than the dolls, she and Bella have received numerous donations.
“These American Girl gowns you can’t just go buy in the store,” she said. “If you have an American Girl doll that has a loose arm or needs a new head or whatever it may be, you send it to the ‘American Girl hospital’ and they send it back with this outfit on the doll, which is a hospital gown and the only way you can get them is if you send your doll to the hospital.
“I’m on an American Girl doll buy/sell/trade page and people started sending them to me for free when I had mentioned what [Bella] was doing.”
Fricker said while she provides Bella with all the beading material, they have been able to rely solely on bracelet profit to buy the three dolls.
Each costs $125 but because they are specially made, shipping is an additional $12.95, Fricker said.
Bella said the project is all about “just making a little girl feel happy while she’s in the hospital.”
“She’s 9; adults aren’t this nice to have this kind of empathy for people,” said Fricker. “I’m so proud of her for wanting to give to these little girls and like she always says, ‘I want to make them feel happy.’”