This year onlookers will get the pleasure of seeing Belle Helton, 8, daughter of Michelle and Kyle Helton, as this year’s Face of the Parade at the head of the 32nd annual event.
“She is the face of the patients to the crowd,” said Carrie Edwards, public relations coordinator for Children’s.
Belle said she is eagerly awaiting the start of the parade.
“I am so excited about being in the parade,” she said. “I cannot wait to be in the drawn carriage, and waving at all the people.”
Belle has one amazing story that makes her the perfect “face.”
The Helton family has had a life like a modern-day Job, who retained his faith in God despite a series of serious personal setbacks.
Belle Helton was born Nov. 12, 2004, and contracted a fever when she was 6 weeks old. Her mother took her to the hospital where doctors found Belle’s calcium was so low it could have caused a seizure. Tests revealed she had congenital nephrotic syndrome, a disease which could have shut Belle’s kidneys down, her mother recalled.
The Heltons had to wait until Belle was 18 months old in 2006 to schedule a transplant, but when it was time for the procedure they discovered her kidneys were working properly.
Then in March 2010 at a routine appointment, Belle’s kidneys went into full renal failure. Both parents were perfect matches, and they decided Mr. Helton would donate. However, plans changed when he lost his job soon after.
Helton stepped in and started to get tests run to get cleared to give her kidney. Another curve ball came as she was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, which left her unable to donate, she said.
The family never gave up, and they kept their faith in God, Helton said.
“You just have to take a breath and know God is in control,” she said.
With all this going on they never let this series of events get the family down, Mrs. Helton said.
“You cannot stay in a pity party cause there is dinner to cook and basketball games to go to,” she said.
All changed when Mrs. Helton went through a series of procedures, resulting in the cancer having less than 1 percent chance of returning, she said. In October 2011, Kyle Helton got a job and was able to donate his kidney to his daughter in February.
Now Belle is feeling better, and is excited to be the “face” of the parade riding with her parents and big brothers, Chandler, 17, and Grayson, 13. She’s even practicing her wave to the crowd, Mrs. Helton said.
“She has the personality the size of a continent,” she said.