Tag Archives: Bella’s Bumbas

Bella’s Bumbas gets a boost

24 Sep

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I am tickled pink to tell you all about the latest good news from Webster’s very own Bella’s Bumbas, one of the most caring organizations I have ever known, run by two of the most caring individuals I have ever met.

I won’t go into much background into this great organization. You can read more about it in this blog I wrote back in 2017, and this follow-up blog earlier this year. But briefly, Bella’s Bumbas is a non-profit organization run by Webster residents Marty Parzynski and Rebecca Orr, dedicated to building miniature wheelchairs for children with a wide variety of mobility issues. In just their first year of operation, they shipped more than 300 “Bella’s Bumbas” around the world, often adapting the chairs for each child’s individual needs, and charging the families only for shipping.

Since starting Bellas Bumbas in 2017, the couple had been working out of their small Webster home. Rebecca handled the administrative chores on a laptop at their kitchen table, and Marty assembled the chairs in a cold, cramped workshop behind the garage, which doubled as storage for all the Bumba seats, wheels, platforms and hardware.

But thanks to the kindness of a friend, those days are finally behind them.

IMG_9386Last Saturday afternoon, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Bella, her family and  several volunteers, Marty and Rebecca celebrated the official opening of their brand new workshop. The new space is actually a house belonging to a longtime friend and Bella’s Bumbas volunteer.

“Miss Lee,” as Rebecca and Marty call her, is a 97-year old woman who has been helping the couple out since they began, folding brochures and informational materials which were sent out with each chair. Recently, she had to move from her home into assisted living. When she did, she offered the use of her house to Rebecca and Marty to use as Bella’s Bumbas’ center of operations, asking only a little bit of rent in return.

It took a couple of weeks to move all of the building equipment, supplies and inventory to the new workshop, but by last week everything had been schlepped, sorted and set up. The house’s kitchen is now a workshop, the dining room is inventory storage, and the living room is the shipping center.

It’s really a dream come true for Marty and Rebecca.

“We have room to function now,” Marty said. “When we built (the wheelchairs) before we had no place to put them but on the floor. Picture 15 Bumbas on the floor. You had to move everything to get to them. It was getting to be more and more effort. It’s still a huge effort, but it’s a little more effortless because we have the space.”

Production barely slowed down during the move. These days they’re shipping out 15 to 20 chairs every week, all over the world. This week they’re shipping ones to Malaysia and Indonesia.

The chairs have come a long way since the first Bella’s Bumba. The seats are much more supportive, the wheels bigger, and very often they’re adapted specifically for a child’s special needs. A recent model, for example, was for a child with no legs and only one arm with which to drive it. Another was for a child whose legs are frozen in a frog-like position and can’t fit in a regular seat. 

“So far every challenge we’ve been given, we’ve met,” Marty said. 

When Miss Lee offered them use of her house, Rebecca said “I was surprised but not surprised.” Apparently, only a month after they had created Bella’s Bumbas, Miss Lee told her about a dream she had had.

“She told me, I had a dream,” Rebecca said. “You guys would have a building, and someday I hope it’s my home.” 

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Miss Lee had another surprise for them. “I had another dream,” she said. “You’ll have a big building that will take care of everything —  workshops, all the things we need. Room to box it up.”

Let’s hope she’s right.

Here’s a short slideshow of photos from Bella’s Bumbas new space:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Bella’s Bumbas could really use your help to continue their good work.

Since the organization officially began in early 2017, Marty and Rebecca have shipped almost 600 of the custom-made mini wheelchairs all around the world. Since they charge families only for shipping, they rely on donations of building and shipping supplies, and cash to purchase hardware. Now, even though the rent on their new workshop is reasonable, it means additional overhead.

There are several ways you can help.

  • Make a direct donation through the GoFundMe page;
  • If you do a lot of shopping on Amazon, you can select Bella’s Bumbas to receive a percentage of your purchase price through the AmazonSmile program.
  • Donate through PayPal
  • Donate shipping supplies
  • Send a check directly to Bella’s Bumbas, 1170 Ridge Road, #208, Webster, NY 14580
  • You can even buy some of the chairs for them. There are three different places you can get them: 1) This design from Kmart, 2) this other design from Kmart, and 3) this one at Amazon.com.

You can connect with Marty and Rebecca through the Bella’s Bumbas Facebook page if you’re not sure how to help or have any questions, or email bellasbumbas@gmail.com.

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An update on Bella’s Bumbas

18 May
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Bella, who has spina bifida, was the inspiration for the Webster-based Bella’s Bumbas. 

Many of you have been following my occasional columns and blogs about Bella’s Bumbas, the amazing local nonprofit organization which is changing lives for children with significant physical challenges.

Run by Webster residents Rebecca Orr and her husband Marty Parzynski, Bella’s Bumbas is dedicated to building miniature wheelchairs for children with a wide variety of mobility issues. They started the operation only a little more than a year ago and have already shipped more than 300 of these of these chairs around the world, often adapting individual chairs for the children’s individual needs.

What’s especially neat is that Marty and Rebecca charge families only for shipping. To pay for that, and to get all the parts they need, they rely entirely on donations from businesses and individuals.

This week, they got a huge boost in their fundraising efforts.

The folks from GoFundMe, on which Bella’s Bumbas hosts a fundraising page,  recently singled out the organization for some special attention. They contacted Marty and Rebecca and asked for permission to make a video about the organization, featuring their niece Bella — the original inspiration for Bella’s Bumbas — and some of the families which have benefited from their generosity.

GoFundMe posted the completed video Thursday morning. The response was immediate and overwhelming. When Rebecca texted me at 5 p.m. Thursday afternoon, they had already received an additional $21,000 in donations.

The incredible kindness of people — all total strangers — has touched Rebecca and Marty deeply.

“I just love some of the comments people make when they donate, and TOTALLY love the fact that some of the donations are $5-$10 saying they wish they could send more,” Rebecca said. “Those are the most heartfelt to me.”

Rebecca and Marty continue to improve on their Bumbas, most recently shipping a new design for bigger children, which requires the larger 16″ tires. They call this particular version the “Kyden” in honor of the child for whom it was built. They even added shoulder straps, because Kyden needed them.

Check out the video for yourself. It’s only about three and a half minutes long, and does a nice job explaining how Bella’s Bumbas started and how it it changing children’s lives in amazing ways.

If you would like to donate, you can do so right there on the page, or send a check directly to Bella’s Bumbas, 1170 Ridge Road, PMB 208, Webster, NY 14580.

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram

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Bella’s Bumbas feeling the love

5 Feb

Marty with chair

A few weeks ago, you might remember seeing a story in the D&C (which I reposted here in my blog) about Bella’s Bumbas, a terrific Webster-based organization run by Rebecca Orr and her husband Marty Parzynski, dedicated to building miniature wheelchairs for children with a wide variety of mobility issues. Already, more than 250 have been shipped around the world.

Marty and Rebecca don’t charge anything for the chairs they build, asking only that each family cover the shipping cost.  So, basically, Bella’s Bumbas relies on donations of money and materials like seats, tires and bubble wrap.

They’ve already been getting a lot of support from local businesses and kindhearted individuals. But since my article appeared … well, let me quote the excited text I got from Rebecca:

Just wanted to let you know something’s going on since/due to your article. (Webster Library staff members) are now collecting air packs and bubble wrap and have an ENTIRE can full so far and more to pick up. Webster Presbyterian Church donated $500, a local businessman’s club brought us a check for $2,000, someone is sending us 100 summer seats, and 15 high backs, plus some smaller cash donations and (we) have made about 30 more chairs!

I wanted to share that text with everyone for two reasons:

  • Thank you to everyone who have sent donations of any kind to Marty and Rebecca. They are wonderful people who are making children smile, in most cases providing these children the ability to move around on their own for the first time in their lives.
  • Please consider showing your support. Believe it or not, one of the things they really need is bubble wrap. Just like the staff members at the library, perhaps the people at your place of work could start saving the bubble wrap in the deliveries you get.

Monetary donations are being collected at Bella’s Bumbas GoFundMe page, or you can send a check directly to Bella’s Bumbas, 1170 Ridge Road, PMB 208, Webster, NY 14580.

And definitely visit the Bella’s Bumba Facebook page, where you can get more information and see videos of many of the kids these chairs has helped. So many smiling faces, as these children discover mobility for the very first time in their lives.

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.

More about Bella’s Bumbas

14 Jan

For those of my blog readers who don’t subscribe to the Democrat and Chronicle, I’d like to share with you my Our Towns East Extra story which ran in the paper this morning. It tells about an incredible Webster couple who have dedicated themselves to changing the lives of young children with disabilities all over the world.

It’s kind of a long read, but I think it will warm your heart.

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Webster couple’s love for their niece inspired tiny wheelchairs

Today, an update on Bella’s Bumbas, an organization I first wrote about last March. It’s a heart-warming story of a cause that began in Webster, but is now helping children all over the world.

Bella’s Bumbas began by chance a year ago by Webster residents Rebecca Orr and her husband Marty Parzynski.

In 2015, their niece Bella was born 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.

When I first wrote about Bella’s Bumbas, Marty had only built and shipped five of the chairs. But when local and national media outlets started to pick up the story, orders began coming in from all over the country.

Now, almost a year later, Marty and Rebecca have shipped about 250 of the chairs, to 40 states and nine countries, and orders are still coming in at an average of four or five a week.

Along the way, they built a new workshop and developed a lot of shortcuts to help streamline the operation, which helps them keep up with the demand. It only takes about 10 minutes now for Marty to cobble together a wheelchair, compared to the three hours it took for the first Bella’s Bumba.

They’ve also learned a lot about the unique needs of the children they’re serving. Their chairs are now being shipped to children not just with spina bifida, but also those with cerebral palsy, brittle bone disease, microcephaly, Dandy-Walker Syndrome, and about 30 other mobility issues.

Marty has also designed three new chairs specifically adapted to each child’s specific needs, including one with a basket to carry an oxygen tank and other medical devices.

One thing that hasn’t changed is how the Bella’s Bumbas are improving the lives of everyone they touch.

“It’s increased our compassion for children and their needs and families,” Marty said. “Not just for the children, but for the moms and dads who have been going through the disability with the child. This chair has given them such a freedom in their own lives ….It works both ways.”

“It’s just amazing where this has taken us,” he added.

And Bella, the little girl who started it all and whose parents were told she would never walk, is now two and a half years old. She still uses her Bumba to get around quickly, but with her improved upper body strength, she’s graduated to leg braces and a walker.

“She’s thriving,” Rebecca said. “The chair is now for her playtime. She may walk (with) just hand crutches someday.”

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And here’s some  more information I didn’t have time the space to include into the article:

  • A few months ago, Bella’s Bumbas was featured on CBS News. You can see that video here. 
  • Rebecca and Marty have received incredible support from several local businesses, including 1) B&L Wholesale Supply in Rochester, who provides all of the Azack material for the chair bases, free of charge, 2) HandicappedPets.com, which has donated $12,000 worth of bicycle tires; and 3) Superior Solutions of Webster, which ships all of the chairs domestically for one, very reasonable, flat rate.  Rebecca also notes that “our Friday volunteer George is essential to helping “Sarge” keep up with the building.”
  • Bella’s Bumbas has shipped chairs to children in China, the Philippines, Czechoslovakia,  Argentina, Sierra Leone, Guatemala,  Greenland, Canada, and the UK. 
  • Becky and Marty’s efforts have inspired a man in Germany to start building the wheelchairs as well, setting up a similar organization he calls Lina’s Rollis. He has taken over several of Bella’s Bumbas European orders, building and shipping them at a much reduced rate.
  • In December, Bella’s Bumbas was honored to present four chairs to Golisano’s Children’s Hospital, donated in memory of Rebecca’s mom, Marilyn Baize Campagna. They were built with funds donated in her memory and will allow her to keep on helping children, something she loved to do.
  • Bella’s Bumbas still builds these chairs at no cost to the families, asking only that the shipping costs be covered. If you’d like to help, they could use cash donations to help purchase parts that have not been donated. To do so, log onto their GoFundMe page, or you can send a check directly to Bella’s Bumbas, 1170 Ridge Road, PMB 208, Webster, NY 14580.
  • They can also use packing materials — especially bubble wrap and pillow packs (not peanuts, please) — so if you regularly get shipments using these, start hoarding them!

I just heard from Becky this morning, who never slows down. She wrote, “I’m packing to ship eight chairs, and we have found transportation for two to go to China, one to go to India and one to Ireland, all by the end of March.”

If all that wasn’t enough to fill your heart, visit the Bella’s Bumba Facebook page, where you can see videos of many of the kids these chairs has helped. So many smiling faces, as these children discover mobility for the very first time in their lives.

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram

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Santa Claus is coming to town

21 Nov

santaSanta obviously knows there are a lot of good little boys and girls in Webster, because he’s making our town his first stop this holiday season.

Webster’s very own Santa Claus will be spreading Christmas joy (and collecting food for the Salvation Army) on December 1 between 6 and 8 pm. at St. Martin Lutheran Church, 813 Bay Road.

This is a great opportunity to get that coveted photo with Santa without standing long lines at the mall. Bring your own camera if you’d like, but St. Martin tells me they will have a professional photo shoot set-up, complete with “a large whimsical Santa Chair, an elegant Christmas photo backdrop, everything you need to help make your Christmas photos memorable.”

Plus Santa, of course.

The kids can also have some fun with cookie decorating and board games, and can write their very own “Letter to Santa” which can be handed directly to him or deposited in his North Pole mailbox. There will be refreshments, carol singing at the piano, and later in the afternoon, Santa will read a few Christmas stories to the children.

The event is free and open to everyone.

If you come, please bring some non-perishable food items for the Salvation Army. At this time of year stuffing, gravies, boxed mashed potatoes and canned vegetables are especially appreciated. 

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CaptureIf you can’t make it on December 1, here’s your next chance to catch Santa before he gets really busy.

The Webster Lions Club will host their annual FREE Pancake Breakfast with Santa on Sunday, December 3 at the Webster East Golf Club, 440 Salt Road.

Breakfast will be served from 8:00 am until noon, and Santa will definitely be there to visit with the children. There will also be raffles, holiday prizes, gift certificates, and free vision screening for children 8 and under.

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram

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Bella’s Bumbas creators featured on CBS News

28 Jul
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Rebecca Orr with her niece Bella in a Bella’s Bumba

A Webster couple who have dedicated their lives to helping children in need have just received some national exposure.

For the last year, Rebecca Orr and her husband Marty Parzynski have been building miniature “Bella’s Bumba” wheelchairs for children throughout the country who suffer from spina bifida, a congenital defect in which part of the spinal cord is exposed through a gap in the backbone. The condition commonly causes paralysis of the lower limbs.

Their passion to help was sparked when their niece Bella was born in July, 2015. When she and her siblings came for a visit last summer from their Buffalo home, Rebecca and Marty were troubled by Bella’s inability to move around and interact with other children. Basically she had no other choice but to sit and watch everyone play.

Insurance doesn’t pay for wheelchairs, and the commercial versions of the Bumba wheelchair can cost more than $1,000. So, assisted by plans they found on Pinterest, they decided to build one for Bella.

Word spread, orders started pouring in for the life-changing chairs, and they have built hundreds for children around the world. To this day, Rebecca and Marty still don’t charge anything for the chairs aside from shipping. That generosity and dedication are probably what caught the attention of the national news.

Last week, CBS News came to town to interview Rebecca and Marty and Bella’s parents, and took some great video of a very happy — and mobile — Bella, wheeling around in her Bumba.

The story ran this morning. Check out the video here.

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Bella’s Bumbas are built totally free of charge using donated parts. Monetary donations, or donations of Bumbo chairs, 12-inch tires, and hardware are gratefully accepted. For more information on how you can help, or to request your own Bella’s Bumba, connect with Bella’s Bumbas on Facebook or email bellasbumbas@gmail.com.

You can also stop by the First Annual Bella’s Bumba Family Picnic on Saturday August 26, from 11 am to 3 pm at Webster’s First Responder’s Park, 1350 Chiyoda Drive (next to the Webster Recreation Center).

You can also read more of this story in the column I wrote back in March.

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Instagram

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.