Walmart Heart celebrates local girl battling cancer

Isabella “Bella” Campbell arrived at Walmart Supercenter in Seymour on Saturday morning in the passenger seat of a Walmart semitrailer.

With the amount of gifts she received there, she could have left in the semitrailer, too.

The 8-year-old Lexington girl, who is battling bone cancer, was the beneficiary of the Walmart Heart Program.

In 2006, four Walmart truck drivers came together in Seymour to brainstorm ways they could make a positive impact on the communities they serve, according to a story posted online at

They originally were there for a different meeting, but then they heard the story of Jack Scott, a sick boy whose mother had called her local Walmart with a dilemma: Her son needed to stay up all night for a surgery. The manager agreed to keep the store open all night, and a Walmart trucker who made a delivery to the store that night stayed with Scott and kept him company.

The four truckers — Rickey Oliver, Phillip Hargrove, Danny Ewell and Greg Carter — wanted to help sick and special needs children, too.

They came up with the Walmart Heart Program, making children participating in the program an honorary Walmart truck driver, providing them Walmart shirts as a uniform and taking them on a truck ride.

The four divided up the country and started visiting distribution centers to recruit drivers to participate. When it started, there were about 300 drivers in the program. Drivers can come and go in the program as they wish, participating at their leisure, so it’s unknown how many drivers total have participated since the program launched. It’s estimated to be well into the thousands now.

The truckers also form relationships with the kids they make honorary drivers and keep up with their treatments and status.

Campbell was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma on Nov. 19, 2021, and then completed 13 weeks of chemotherapy before having surgery to have her leg amputated. She then started her next regimen of chemo.

She and her family used to live in Seymour, where she attended Margaret R. Brown Elementary School, and hey still attend Cornerstone Community Church.

From riding in the passenger seat of the semi to receiving gymnastics equipment, unicorn-themed gifts and more, Campbell and her family were appreciative of everything that was done Saturday.

“The love and the support from the community, it’s just overwhelming,” her father, Evan Campbell, said of the Walmart Heart Program and several other fundraisers that have been done recently.

“The best way I know how to describe it is it’s a big hug from Jesus,” her mother, Angela Campbell, said.

While all of the doctor visits and financial burdens have been difficult, the support from their church and community has pulled the family through, Evan said.

“You start this journey and you wonder just how. … You just ask God, ‘How am I going to do this?’ and then he kicks in and he gets all of this to come out. It has to be through him. It has to be,” he said.

“That’s the big thing is how much you’re supported and the people that stand behind you,” Angela added. “I feel like that helps so much.”

Seeing his daughter’s reaction to all of the gifts she received Saturday, Evan said, “It warms our heart and makes her day brighter. The community supporting us, it supports her and drives her.”

Carter said it’s amazing what people can do when they open their heart, and he thanked all of the drivers who attended and contributed to the program for Bella.

“They went above and beyond. It says, ‘From our heart to a child’s heart, give freely.’ It’s a heart thing,” Carter said. “I’m honored to work with these guys and the people that have made this happen. It gets me. I’m very thankful. I’m very honored to be here.”

Saturday’s festivities began in the Brownstown Central High School parking lot, where 21 Walmart semis began their trek 10 miles east to the Seymour Walmart store with an escort of local police, fire and ambulance personnel.

At the store, Bella and her family walked from the grocery entrance to the garden center with Walmart store associates clapping the whole way.

In the garden center, girls from Gymnastics Lane in Seymour performed for Bella, who loves dance and gymnastics and wants to do both once she receives a prosthetic.

Then a program began where Bella received gifts, including a handmade blanket, gymnastics equipment, a gift bag from Walmart’s wellness group, a cart full of unicorn-themed items and arts and crafts, a customized Team Bella stuffed unicorn, a Walmart gift card and a gas card.

Also, her sister, Skylar, received a record player and records, she and Bella were given painted portraits and free art lessons with the artist and Angie Villarreal with Gymnastics Lane said she would give Bella private gymnastics lessons.

Walmart truck driver Tom Sizemore was recognized for covering the cost of the gymnastics equipment, including bars, a balance beam, wedges and mats.

“Tom is a really good guy,” truck driver Matthew Magner said. “If you can ever get him off to the side, you can get words out of him, but it takes a little bit. This is our way of showing a little bit of love to you because that’s what you deserve.”

The cart full of items included a unicorn bank, and that was passed around during the program to collect donations for the Campbells.

Also, store associates wore Team Bella shirts, which they are selling as a fundraiser for the family, and unicorn-decorated cupcakes spelling out “Bella” were served.

“Here at Seymour Walmart, we’re all about our community, helping each other out, helping people save money so they can live better,” store manager Shelby Lewis said. “Miss Bella, welcome to the Walmart family.”

Market Manager Toni Rodriguez said the community supports and loves Bella like nothing she has ever seen.

“Walmart operates globally, but we give back locally,” she said. “That’s one of the things that we strive for, and I think the Seymour DC and the Seymour associates have really embraced what Helen Walton said when she said, ‘It’s not what you gather, it’s what you scatter that matters.’ Hopefully today, we’ll all see that love scattered for Bella.”

Jason Bickham, general transportation manager for Walmart Distribution Center 6017 in Seymour, praised the truck drivers, store associates and community.

“Walmart Heart is just such an incredible organization, such an incredible endeavor,” he said. “What a special, special girl. This is just the least we could do for one of our own in our community. When I look at all of the associates here, when I look at the drivers, just the community of Seymour, it just melts my heart. I think this is just a special event. I hope we can just bring a little bit of joy to Isabella because this is all about her and making this a special day for her.”