How To Become a Bella Soul “Featured Story”

Bella Soul encourages college students from all over the nation to open up and share their medical stories. By doing so, these students gain support that they may never knew they had!

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Here’s a picture of my story featured on Bella Soul’s website!

Bella Soul believes that those facing disease or disability while also being a student deserve some recognition and praise. That’s why every month the nonprofit organization features a student and their personalized story on its websiteFacebook and Twitter.

Interested in becoming Bella Soul’s next featured story? It’s simple! All you have to do is write about your own story- share your journey from the time you were diagnosed with your ailment to where you are now.

Here are a few things you may find beneficial to incorporate:

  • How have you improved from the time you were diagnosed?
  • What have you learned from your disease?
  • Do you have any advice for other students battling disease or disability?

The final step is submitting your story to Bella Soul’s email:!

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Picture of me super happy and thankful for all of the support I received after posting my story to Bella Soul! (It’s really from my birthday).

When I was first diagnosed with my disease, I never wanted to talk to anyone about it (and that’s all it seemed people wanted to talk about). Writing about my journey through kidney disease was my form of therapy. It also was an easy way for my friends and family that were concerned about me to understand (in detail) what I was going through. After being featured on Bella Soul’s website, I got an overwhelmingly large amount of support from people all over the nation. To me, although talking about my disease was not always the easiest, sharing my journey on the Internet was 100% worth it.

I hope it’s worth it for you, too.

Want to learn about my own journey? Check it out, here!

If you have any further questions, or would like for information about sharing your story with Bella Soul, feel free to tweet me: @lauren_wilmet.


Bella Soul: The Meaning Behind The Palm Tree

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Many of you may have been wondering, “What the heck is the significance behind the palm tree in Bella Soul’s logo?” Well, it comes from this beautiful quote:

 “It is the nature of the strong heart, that like the palm tree it strives ever upwards when it is most burdened.” ~Philip Sidney

Some of you may be thinking it’s just some silly quote. But, I think that anyone who has ever had to face obstacles in their life can relate to it.

Ring I bought that says, “I promise to stay positive.” I wore it everyday through my toughest times.

When I was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease, there were times it was impossible to keep an optimistic mindset. However, I would not be where I am today if I lived my life with a negative mentality. I kept my heart strong with my chin held high, even when I was going through the toughest of times. In that way, the palm tree symbolizes myself in the quote.

If you ever run into some bumps in the road just remember to be strong, be positive, and live in the moment. Stand tall like a palm tree, even when you are most burdened. If I can do it, you can do it, too!

I might not be the most inspirational speaker/blogger, so take it from Katy Perry and the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock:

As always, you can reach out to me on Twitter by using my handle @lauren_wilmet.

Scholarship Open to Students Facing Disease or Disability

BBW Bella Soul ScholarshipThe nonprofit organization Bella Soul’s mission is not only to support students battling disease or disability, but also to award these hardworking students with scholarships. These scholarships can be used as the individual pleases, but are given out to support the student and their families who are battling the expenses of college tuition and medical bills.

Bella Soul has officially opened up the application for its Bourget, Bieber and Wilmet scholarship. This scholarship is in remembrance of the families who have donated to Bella Soul and have helped the organization be able to provide financial aid to students in need!

So, if you’re a college student living with physical ailments or disease, this scholarship may be just for you!

Here are the scholarship requirements:

  1. The applicant must be a college student living with a physical ailment, disease and/or disability.
  2. The applicant must be enrolled as a full time student at an accredited university or college.
  3. The applicant must not be on academic probation.

Finished applications must be turned into by 11:59 pm on August 3rd, 2015!

If you are interested in applying, check out Bella Soul’s Scholarship page for more information. The application (Bella Soul Small Scholarship Application) is also uploaded for students wanting to apply!

Chelsea rockin’ it in the doctor’s office!

Want to learn about our last scholarship winner? Click here to read Chelsea’s story. The obstacles she has overcome are truly inspirational. She is a fighter!

For any further questions, tweet me with the handle @lauren_wilmet and I will get back to you ASAP!

Bella Soul: Providing Scholarships To Those In Need

Bella Soul is the first non-profit organization in the world to support individuals, mentally and financially, living with physical disability, disease, or illness in college.

Applying for scholarships is stressful. There are so many of them and crazy requirements for each one. When I was applying for scholarships in high school to help pay for college, I remember noticing how many there were for students in minority groups. Thinking back today, I never noticed the absence of grants for those struggling with physical illnesses; I am now proud to say that there are scholarships awarded to students battling sickness. Bella Soul is the first organization to provide financial aid to students with physical diseases or disabilities.

Over one billion people in the world are living with a disability. That makes individuals with disabilities the largest minority in the world.

We, students with diseases or disabilities, are a minority as well. We jump over extra hurdles to stay and do well in school. We may not always look like we’re sick, but I think we deserve some recognition for the hardships we work through every day. That’s what the non-profit organization Bella Soul is here to do (and I think that’s pretty cool).

Disability does not just include individuals with visible limitations, but also those living with cancer, kidney disease, diabetes, etc.

Bella Soul’s most recent scholarship has been awarded to a student at Colorado State University; she is soaring through college while waiting for a kidney and being on dialysis. Check out this strong student’s full story here!

If you’re interested in applying for Bella Soul’s next scholarship, like the Bella Soul Facebook page for updates and new information. We can’t wait to hear your story and give you the support you deserve!

Tweet me @lauren_wilmet with any further questions.

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Why You Should Confront Your Disease

My friends supporting Bella Soul and me at the gala!
My friends supporting Bella Soul and me at the gala!

In the summer of 2014 I was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease. This affected my life significantly, especially because I was about to start my freshman year of college. As I explained in a previous blog post, I didn’t feel comfortable talking about my disease with anyone… I felt so alone. With time I confronted my sickness, and I shared my story with the nonprofit organization, Bella Soul. Writing was my way of opening up and explaining my journey with the people who didn’t understand what was going on in my life.

If you have ever been diagnosed with a disease or disability, I hope you eventually work up the courage to face it like I have. Opening up and sharing your personal story is not an easy task, but doing so is some of the best therapy I’ve ever received. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about your disease, know that you have other options:

  1. Write about it.
  2. Record yourself.
  3. Make a podcast.
  4. Post a video.

Any of these options are great forms of communication. Do what works best for you and what you feel most comfortable doing!

Since I’ve gained comfort and accepted living with disease, I no longer feel alone and I can freely talk about my the status of my kidneys. I’ve gotten so comfortable talking about them that I sometimes bring them up at inappropriate times (we all have a little social awkwardness in us). But I’ve learned that you should never feel like you’re not allowed to talk about your disease or disability. Every time you speak about it, it serves as therapy. Sharing your experiences only makes you a stronger person!

Giving my speech at the Bella Soul Gala!

If you write about your story, think about submitting it to Bella Soul’s website to share with the world. There are people out there just like you; you could inspire others to open up about their own stories.

Interested in the nonprofit organization, Bella Soul? Learn more, here.

You can tweet me @lauren_wilmet for more information, as always.

Can We Talk About Something Else, Please?

Yup, just like this. Photo Credit:

My freshman and sophomore years of college were a struggle for me. I HATED talking about my kidney disease, and I HATED when people would constantly ask me about it. Every time someone asked me, “How are you feeling, Lauren?” or the status of my kidneys, I wished that person could see the steam pouring out of my ears.

I know this sounds dramatic and like I’m a total “B” word, but everyone knows how frustrating it is being asked the same question over and over, especially when you don’t feel comfortable talking about it in the first place. I understand that it’s because people care about me, but all I wanted was to have normal conversations!

Consistently being asked these questions can make one diagnosed with disease or disability want to lock up their feelings even more. We are constantly in search of normalcy in our every day lives; it’s not enjoyable when we’re reminded of something that sets us apart from others.

My advice is this: Give your loved ones diagnosed with disease or disability time. Don’t try to pry out their feelings or push them to talk when they don’t feel comfortable doing so. You have to trust them. When they are ready to talk, they will let you know.

If you’re a parent of someone with physical ailments reading this, I’m in no position to tell you how to talk to your children. But coming from a young adult who suffers from a rare kidney disease, I’m pretty confident your loved one has felt this way at one point or another.

Today, instead of trying to pry people’s feelings out of them, I treat them how I want to be treated if something troubling happens in life. I simply show them that I care and give them the opportunity to talk if they ever feel like it. No matter how much you want to know what’s on their minds, you have to wait for them to come to you; they will come eventually!

Want to learn more about my story? Check out this blog post. Tweet me with the Twitter handle @lauren_wilmet for any questions, comments, or concerns. I’d love to hear from you!



Meet Bella Soul, A Nonprofit Org Like No Other

Over one billion people in the world are living with a disability. That makes individuals with disabilities the largest minority in the world.

As I explained in a previous blog post, I was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease a few days before my freshman year of college. Needless to say, the first couple years of school were NOT what I had dreamt them to be.

I think I can vouch for any college student living with a disease or disability: you feel like a complete outsider. Trying to make friends can feel nearly impossible, especially if you’re consistently being asked questions like, “why aren’t you drinking” or “why is your face so puffy?” All we want is to feel like we fit in.

Shannon Strader knows this feeling exactly. Since her freshman year, she felt alone, listening to her friends having a good time while she was stuck in bed with excruciating body pain. She spent 19 years urinating blood, vomiting from pain, and not being able to eat or sleep without hurting. After years of doctors telling her there was nothing wrong with her and that she was tooshan_believe “dramatic,” Shannon connected with a nephrologist that found something unusual: her renal vein was behind her aorta instead of in front where it should be. It was being compressed by her spinal cord and aorta, causing internal bleeding, congestion and little blood circulation throughout her body. If you ask me, that’s not being dramatic! Shannon underwent three surgeries to fix the troubles this rare kidney disease was giving her; not to mention the surgeries were the first of their kind.

Shannon suffered through all of this, as well as losing a best friend, her twin sister, Lauryn. At 20 days old, Lauryn contracted meningitis and was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy. These series of events led Shannon to createshan_youth Bella Soul, the first nonprofit in the world to support individuals, mentally and financially, living with physical disability or illness as well as chronic/terminal illnesses in college. Her vision was above and beyond the average 19 year old’s; not many people can say they started a nonprofit org at age 21!  Shannon is the real Superwoman, and I am so grateful and proud to have been by her side throughout this process.

People always say they understand what you’re going through, but they never will until they’ve experienced it first hand. That’s why Bella Soul is so powerful; not only does the organization provide scholarships to students battling tuition and medical bills, it serves as therapy and helps those around you better understand what you deal with everyday.

I hope Bella Soul changes students’ lives just like it did for me. Shannon should be commended for all of her hard work, bravery and passion she consistently puts into this wonderful 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization. I can’t thank her enough for trusting me and making me the Vice President of her team. I’ve enjoyed watching Bella Soul grow into the wonderful organization it is today, and I can’t wait to watch it continually grow and influence others as it has influenced me.

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The Bella Soul Team pictured from left: Me (VP), Alex Ritger (Secretary), and Shannon Strader (Founder/President).

To learn more about Bella Soul, check out our website here.  You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter!  We’d love to hear from you.