Andrew Adamietz and his blue cape drew me in as I stalked the floor of the BJC searching for interviews. Centered on Andrew’s cape is his THON org, the a capella group Blue in the Face. Beneath that, puff paint letters read “Andrew, FTK,” and below Andrew’s own name is an even more important one–Bella. In August of 2012, Blue in the Face’s THON child, Isabella Rinier–known as Bella–ended her battle with Neuroblastoma. Bella earned her wings at age 5 but will be remembered forever.
At that point, Blue in the Face had known the Riniers for two years and considered them family. It broke their hearts to think that this relationship would end, so they did everything in their power to maintain ties. This weekend, Andrew dances for them. “Last year was our first year without them,” he explained, “and Shannon, who’s our THON mom, wasn’t sure if she’d be coming back to THON.”
Andrew, now a Senior, had been dreaming of dancing since he was a freshman, but he wasn’t willing to dance without her. “I told her if I dance, you’re going to come back because I need you to support me,” he said.
His offer worked, and Shannon agreed to make the trip back to Penn State for another THON. She returns to the BJC this weekend with the rest of her family and some great news–she’s pregnant, and today she’ll be finding out the gender of the baby.
Andrew is over the moon with this news, exclaiming, “when she gets here, she’s gotta tell me what it is!”
Carly Presher, another dancer for Blue in the Face, is new to the group and unfortunately never had an opportunity to meet Bella. All the same, she feels strongly tied to the young hero. In the middle of the chaos that is THON weekend, Carly was calm as she confided, “I still feel like, even though I didn’t get to meet her, I’m really connected with her.”
Recently, Carly made a life changing trip to visit Bella’s grave with the Rinier family. The experience was one she’ll never forget and one that strengthened their bond exponentially. This weekend, she will keep that memory strong in her mind as she stands for 46 hours.
It’s obvious that Carly and Andrew have a lot to be excited about this weekend. Still, they will never forget why they’re here–they will keep Bella at the forefront of their hearts and their minds. This weekend is for her.
“You are stronger than you’ll ever really know, and when life knocks you down, you get back up and keep moving forward,” they shared on their THON page, “Bella never asked to have cancer, just as none of these children do, but cancer is what it took to bring us all together.”