Carolina Echeverri Valle is a senior pursuing a double degree in International Relations and PRAAC, with a minor in Political Science and a certificate in Human Rights and Political Transition at Florida International University. Being a passionate advocate for human rights, she aspires to work in a non-profit aimed at helping children and/or women. After graduating from her two majors, she plans on attending graduate school. She has had the privilege of working the Spanish Ministry of Education, the German American Business Chamber of Commerce, UNICEF, Hillel at FIU, CARTA in DC at FIU, and Broward County. She’s been a peer advisor at FIU, served in many leadership positions within her sorority of Alpha Omicron PI and created a project for the Millennium Fellowship. As a student who grew up in Colombia, she desires to learn more about the culture and history of one of the most diverse cities in Florida: Miami.
W H O
On March 12th, 2022, I had the opportunity to go to the Miami Zoo and volunteer in Live Like Bella’s annual Superhero 5K to raise funds for childhood cancer. Live Like Bella is a non-profit located in Miami, Florida which is dedicated to fighting against cancer. They focus on three different goals. Their first is raising funds for research and investigation on childhood cancer, as there aren’t as many researchers focusing on child aspect of cancer. Their second is In-Treatment support which involves assisting families that have a child with cancer with groceries, gas, rent, mortgage, car payments, among others. The final In-Treatment support is funeral and memorial assistance, where they help with payments as well. This organization was started by Bella’s parents in memory of their daughter. Up to date, they’ve been able to assist 4,000 families in 49 states and 36 counties around the world. You can read more about it on: Live Like Bella.
W H Y
As someone majoring in international relations and Public Relations, Advertisement, and Applied Communications (PRAAC), I’ve always wanted to work in the non-profit world. My passion has always been to work with children in any way possible. This opportunity was given to me by my boyfriend’s sister, as she spoke to me about this organization. As someone who’s not from Miami, I was not very aware of local non-profits. Nonetheless, after meeting the Live Like Bella Team, it was evident that I’d love to give back to my community and help as much as I could through their organization. Cancer is a disease that has affected my family more than once, as well as a lot of my friend’s families too. Childhood cancer is a little more complex than adult ones and a lot of the times, reoccurring. This was not my first-time volunteering with them, as I had already done it in the past with their annual Gala. However, this time, we had families of survivors, and families that have lost their children due to this disease who finished the 5K to help others. It was such an eye-opening event to be a part of.
H O W
We arrived at the zoo at 5:00 a.m. (when it was still pitch dark outside) and started to help set up and organize the Live Like Bella tent, as the sponsors kept on arriving to organize their tents too. I was very happy to be there and was looking forward to what we would do. In addition to this, I had also helped with stuffing the bags/giveaways for those involved in the 5K, so I saw many people pick them up with a smile on their face. I was told that I would help by taking pictures of specific parts of the event and post them on Facebook with a caption. I was able to have the rundown of the day, the pictures required and the times they had to be posted and started my day. It was one of the most fun volunteering events I’ve been to, because I was able to meet a lot of people who have been affected by cancer, survivors, sponsors, and people who just donate their time.
I felt like enjoying my time with the other Live Like Bella workers, taking pictures throughout the event and watching my friends finish the 5K was an inspiring and unforgettable experience. It made me realize how much we can help others who are sick by performing small tasks. It was very informative on how a fundraising event is organized and the variety of people who show up. It’s something that I hope to continue doing in the future.
W H E R E and W H A T
Firstly, I helped in the Live Like Bella office in Coral Gables. I arrived at 2:00 p.m. and got the instructions by one of the workers of the non-profit. She told me to put the boxes with all the giveaways in the outside area of the office itself and set up a little working station. Following this, I was able to start organizing one of each gift in a tote bag and placing them in a box. These were going to be the gifts that we were going to give each participant in the 5K. We assembled around 1000 bags along with the other volunteers. This was very fun and informative, because I learned about the behind the scenes of non-profit events and how much help they need for it to run smoothly. I also was able to understand that a lot of the giveaways were donations from different sponsors, which is basically how non-profits work.
The day of the event, we arrived at the zoo at 5:00 a.m., I got a debriefing from the lady in charge of events at Live Like Bella, and she told me that I was going to help her with communications throughout the day. This included taking photographs of sponsors and participants, videos of when the 5K began and the winner, pictures of the volunteers and pictures of the team. I also was with her during the interviews that a professional photographer was doing that would later turn into a recap video about the 5K.
Throughout the day, there were specific times and captions that we’d post with the pictures to keep people on the loop on what was going on. We used Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and would have to use a different approach for each. For instance, we would post a lot of stories on Instagram, while on Facebook we would make more posts. This is crucial for non-profits because a lot of awareness, sponsorships and donations come from the use of social media. Live Like Bella could have gained many more participants for next year as well by doing this. After everyone finished the 5K, they had a little ceremony announcing the winners of all the categories, which was divided by ages. We also took pictures of this that we used to post. The staff from Live Like Bella was amazing and treated us with gratitude and appreciation.
We ended the day by enjoying the zoo, because if we attended the event, we could go to the zoo afterwards, for free!
W H E N
S U M M A R Y
It’s very rewarding and enriching when we give back to our community. Even though there’s still no cure for cancer, it makes a change when we are part of the fight against cancer. Being able to volunteer in such a beautiful organization makes a difference, because Live Like Bella doesn’t only assist families who have children with cancer, but they also raise funds to help grow the research being done towards finding a cure for pediatric cancer. There’s not much research being done at all in our country, but Live Like Bella has brought over 5 new research projects just in Florida in the past year. I hope to keep being part of this important change and crucial progress on a worldwide scale when it comes to health.
Assisting others has always been a passion that I have. My parents always taught my brother and I to try and make a difference even if it’s minor in the world. We tend to get caught up with our day-to-day life and forget that we can help in so many ways. I hope we’re able to keep on giving back to our community and change other people’s lives.
W O R K S C I T E D
Home | Live Like Bella. Retrieved 27 March 2022, from https://livelikebella.org