It was in December of 1964, when an active and “helpful “ twenty-one month old Celia Belt, decided to help her parents with delivering her infant brother’s recently warmed bottle.
Her efforts resulted in 34% of her body being burned, second and third degree, by scalding water. Celia was immediately rushed to the emergency room, where she was treated and sent home only to return days later with severe infections, including pneumonia.
Celia was hospitalized, specialists were consulted, and surgery dates were set. That began her long journey as a burn survivor and a twenty-year period filled with surgical procedures, treatments, casts, and pain.
Physical and emotional pain became part of her existence and she remembers her parents vainly seeking for solutions and specialists that could provide some “normalcy” to their child’s life.
Celia grew up surrounded by doctors and therapists; and clinics became familiar sights.
She remembers being a normal child; who wanted to play, learn, read and see the world, but she also remembers the looks, the questions and the lack of understanding when people saw her scars. She remembers her parents’ frustration of not being able to do more; a frustration Celia experiences today knowing that in our world of medical advances, although much has been achieved in the treatment for burns, there remains to be a cure for burns.
Celia knows that accidents like these can halt people’s lives. This is why she shares her story. Through her struggles as a child, a young woman and a mother of three, she knows that she will be able to emerge from her childhood tragedy filled with empathy and strength. She knew that there would be a “silver lining” after all of the struggle and the pain; and she found her purpose in 1998, when she founded The Moonlight Fund and devoted herself to helping burn survivors deal with their accidents, and return to productive lives.
A burn injury is a lifelong journey and it affects people in every aspect of their lives. Too many times burn survivors isolate, fall into depression and in many cases do not make it. Celia’s purpose is to show them, and anyone else that has experienced a tragedy, that a normal, successful and happy life is possible after an accident. She has lived through it and has graciously emerged from the battle.
Celia has been successful in her professional life as well, and has approached every task, job, and career field with a strong and positive attitude. Yet she does not measure her success by professional accomplishments or a paycheck; but how many lives she touches in the process.
Close to 5000 burn survivors and their families have been helped through the Moonlight Fund. Celia knows them personally. She knows them because she has sat down in hospital rooms and waiting areas with them and she has made hours of phone calls to hospitals and clinics to ensure they get the care they need. She has helped them furnish homes and get the necessary funding to complete their college degrees.