The 10thannual Boston Butts Fundraiser helped raise money for Jessica Bello, a 12-year-old and sixth-grader at Bluffton Middle School who was diagnosed at age four with genetic spinal muscular atrophy, which affects the spinal cord and causes muscle wasting. Members of the fire district presented her and her family with a check for $19,000, the amount raised during the fundraiser. The proceeds will help the Bello family pay medical bills and travel expenses stemming from Jessica’s spinal muscular atrophy and epilepsy.
“We’re just very grateful for this,” said Jonathan Bello, Jessica’s brother who also suffers from the same genetic disease. “I know a lot of people have reached out to help, some we don’t know, and it’s just an honor to be a part of this. Having one of us with this situation is tough enough on our parents, and two is that much tougher. But we’re all just really thankful for everyone who donated. It’s a blessing.”
The $19,000 donation was the largest amount the district has raised since the inception of the barbecue and silent auction fundraiser, which began in 2005 to benefit the family of a firefighter’s neighbor, whose daughter had been diagnosed with a rare mitochondrial disease.
When the district learned of the event this year, BI-LO took the opportunity to make a $7,000 donation to provide all the grocery necessities for the 10thannual Boston Butts cook-off. BI-LO also worked with the organization to place orders and reduce costs for the cook-off so the organization would be able to raise more funds to directly benefit local families.
“When our district learned of this event we immediately knew we had to be involved,” explained BI-LO District Director Brian Shillinglaw. “The Bluffton Township Fire District is providing something for the local community that is above and beyond their day-to-day job just to help out our local neighbors, and that is something that is truly remarkable.”