Saturday, March 9 marks what would have been Isabella’s 14th birthday. It’s also when the Isabella Santos Foundation is teaming up with the Community Blood Center of the Carolinas (CBCC) to host several community blood drives to honor the life and legacy of Isabella.
It seems only fitting that one of the March 9 community blood drives will be hosted by Stephanie Foreman, the mother of Isabella’s best friend, Soleil. It will take place from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Overture Cotswold located at 4830 Randolph Road in Charlotte.
“This blood drive is a great opportunity to bring people together to honor Isabella,” said Stephanie. “Knowing Isabella really opened my eyes about the importance of blood donation. I learned that it’s not just for accidents, but also for cancer patients and others in our community.”
The Impact of Losing a Best Friend
Soleil and Isabella became the best of friends after meeting in pre-school at age two and discovering they lived in the same neighborhood. They hit it off and did play dates, sleepovers and even combined birthday parties (Soleil’s birthday is March 2).
“The girls were inseparable,” said Stephanie. “They were opposite and so cute together.”
Isabella’s cancer diagnosis and journey had a profound impact on Stephanie and Soleil, who had to learn at a very young age what cancer was. It became very normal for Soleil to visit and have play dates with Isabella at Levine Children’s Hospital.
The impact of Isabella’s passing still affects Soleil today who, even after seven years, still struggles with the trauma of losing her best friend. Not only did Soleil endure the split of her parents a year and a half prior, but then her best friend passing away. The once bubbly young girl became more introverted and anxious.
Isabella’s passing also affected “Miss Stephanie” – Isabella’s term of endearment for Stephanie – who had anxiety attacks for two years. For Stephanie, it was like losing a daughter as she and “Ibba” shared a close bond.
The Healing Process
With therapy and loving guidance from her mom, Soleil is communicating better, is more open to volunteering at ISF and is excited for the March 9 blood drive to honor her best friend. Through events like the blood drive, Soleil is able to see how much good has come from Isabella’s life.
Stephanie and her girls, Soleil and Ciel, have remained involved in ISF since its inception from participating in the race and volunteering. While Stephanie has been a loyal blood donor, she wanted to do more by hosting this community blood drive to honor Isabella and to help others.
“The ISF team amazes me and I am so proud of them. I remember when this all started. To see where the organization is today is unreal with what they have done and what they are doing,” said Stephanie. “It takes away the pain in my throat when I see ISF’s accomplishments and how they are carrying on Isabella’s legacy.”
CBCC will also be raffling off $100 gift cards to donors who schedule their March 9 appointment prior to the day of the drive. Schedule your appointment online for all locations or call 1-888-59BLOOD.