An update on Bella’s Bumbas

5 Apr

In March 2017, I first introduced my readers to Webster residents Rebecca Orr and Marty Parzynski and their incredible grass-roots organization Bella’s Bumbas when I wrote about them in my D&C East Extra column.  (And here is a follow-up I wrote in January 2018.)

Their niece Bella was born in 2015 with spina bifida, which caused paralysis of her lower limbs. Troubled by Bella’s inability to move around and interact with other children, they did a little research and found a posting on Pinterest about how to make a toddler-sized wheelchair using a commercially-available “Bumbo” infant seat and a child’s bicycle tires. Marty got to work, and before long had built one for his niece. He called it “Bella’s Bumba.”

When word started spreading about what Marty had done and how it had changed Bella’s life, he and Rebecca started getting requests for Bella’s Bumbas from other parents. So they set up a workshop in the garage and started to mass-produce the wheelchairs, using mostly donated parts. They asked families only to cover the shipping costs.

Bella’s Bumbas has grown steadily since those early days, and to date Rebecca and Marty have built and shipped more than 1400 chairs to children all around the world, still only charging families for shipping costs — when they can’t arrange to deliver them personally.

Marty, the master builder, has also continued to develop their product, coming up with design improvements specifically developed for children with particular disabilities.

I was thinking about these fine folks the other day and wondering how their “business” was faring in these difficult times. Rebecca filled me in, saying in her email:

Wow 3 years ????? Who would have thought we would still be “rollin” and growing the way we are…. We have been blessed with amazing volunteers, literally around the world now. We have made some amazing connections and have our little chairs in 36 countries.

During this this “social distancing”  time , we are missing our volunteers greatly . Uncle Marty is slowly but surely still making chairs, aunt Becky is learning, and has made her first chair. Our granddaughter Sage has been helping since we started and has become proficient enough for us to send parts to her home and volunteer her time remotely. She is assembling chassis then will drop them off (via her mom’s help) and we will attach the seats.

Even with everything else going on in the world today, requests for Bumbas are still “trickling in,” Rebecca said. But, she added, Corona has affected them in one big way: they’re beginning to run low on the shipping boxes that are usually donated to them regularly by businesses which are now closed.

The perfect sizes are 50 cm. x 45 cm. x 28 cm. (Rebecca uses two of these for the small chairs); 28″ x 20″ x 14″, and 29″ x 14″ x 24″ are great for the large chairs.

If you’re getting Amazon deliveries regularly, you might also have the boxes they need; the ones that say P5 on the bottom are perfect (25.75″ x 20.75″ x 16.5″).

unnamed (11)

Bella, the little lady who inspired Bella’s Bumbas

So if you have any boxes that are the right size, and would like to donate them, please connect connect with Marty and Rebecca through the Bella’s Bumbas Facebook page or email bellasbumbas@gmail.com. They also still have a GoFundMe page if you’d like to send a direct donation.

And little Bella herself? She’s now almost 5 years old, and thanks to the strength she was able to build with her Bella’s Bumba, she’s now walking with help from a walker, and is even taking a few independent steps. This for a young lady whom doctors said would never walk, and maybe even never sit up unassisted.

Here are several other photos from the Bella’s Bumbas workshops:

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One Response to “An update on Bella’s Bumbas”

  1. Rebecca April 5, 2020 at 12:14 pm #

    THANK YOU THANK YOU for sharing our Story

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