Bella Hadid is one majorly accomplished 19-year-old. Not only has she starred in campaigns from the likes of Balmain and Topshop and walked for everyone from Chanel to Burberry, but did you know that our favorite model-of-the-moment is also a nationally ranked equestrian? In fact, long before she was strutting her stuff on the world’s most fashionable catwalks, she was training to compete in the Olympics.
Devastatingly, Bella’s dreams were effectively killed once she contracted Lyme disease in 2012. While Bella hasn’t spoken publicly about her battle with the chronic inflammatory illness, her mother, Yolanda Foster, has been raising awareness for the debilitating disease by sharing her daughter’s story, along with her own. In October 2015, at the inaugural Global Lyme Alliance gala, Yolanda Foster accepted her “Power of One” award with a speech where she explained that “watching [her] babies struggle in silence in order to support me in my journey, struck the deepest core of hopelessness inside of [her].”
Well, during a recent interview on The Dr. Oz Show, Bella’s mom shared a few more details about her family’s struggle, in particular, how the disease has affected Bella. “Bella wanted to be a professional horseback rider, and her dream was to go to the Olympics,” Yolanda explained. “She’s been on a horse every day of her life since she was 2 years old. She jumped 4’5″ courses and you need to have a very sharp brain in order to do the calculations. And she started making mistakes.”
“All of a sudden, instead of a six stride, she was trying to do it in a four stride or a seven stride and big accidents started happening,” she added of the effects of the tick-borne illness. “My focus, my energy goes to trying to get well, trying to make a difference, trying to find a cure for my children.”
While it’s heartbreaking to hear that Bella’s illness prevented her from being able to compete internationally, this particular twist of fate did allow Bella to discover another passion: modeling. And if you ask us, she’s pretty incredible at that, too.