“Belle has so much energy; she’s a hoot,” said Kitty Correll, of Brookhaven, chair of the parade.
Helton is an 8-year-old kidney transplant patient of the Children’s Egleston hospital in DeKalb County. She is the daughter of Michelle and Kyle Helton of Hiram.
“We couldn’t be more excited about it,” said Michelle Helton. Belle was diagnosed with congenital nephritic syndrome in December 2004, and has been treated at Egleston since then.Doctors said when she was born she would need a kidney transplant within 18 months, but her kidney function remained in a normal range until she was 6.
In January 2010, Kyle and Michelle were tested for giving a kidney. Both parents were matches.A short time later, Belle’s blood pressure was at stroke level and was in full renal failure during a routine doctor’s appointment. The family decided Michelle would give her kidney since Kyle was currently out of work and looking for a job.
In order to give a kidney, the mother had to have a few tests done. After getting a mammogram, it was found that she had breast cancer.“I have no history of breast cancer in my family, have always been healthy,” said Michelle, who was shocked at the diagnosis. “I had no health insurance at the time, so I would have never gotten a mammogram. My daughter’s renal failure saved my life.”Michelle was going through chemotherapy treatments at the same time Belle was on dialysis waiting for transplant surgery.
Kyle donated his kidney to Belle nine months ago.
“We have been through the fire this past year,” said Michelle. “I’m just so glad to be on this end of it. Our faith in God has sustained us through it all. And Belle — she saved my life.”
She said she believes that is why Belle was nominated and ultimately selected to be the face of the parade.
“It’s a blessing that others are inspired through our trials and tribulations,” Michelle said.
Proceeds from this year’s parade will go toward providing equipment for the Atlanta Sibley Heart Center, which treats more than 30,000 children annually.Correll said there will be bands, floats, dance groups and an appearance by Santa and Mrs. Claus.
If you go:
o What: Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s 32nd annual Christmas Parade
o When: Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to noon
o Where: Downtown Atlanta; will follow a 1-mile route from Peachtree Street down Marietta Street, finishing in Centennial Olympic Park
o Information: visit www.choa.org