METAIRIE - Nine-year-old Isabella Bertucci is a huge fan of Cyndi Lauper.
Isabella is also battling leukemia, so when she heard Lauper was scheduled to headline Family Gras this year, she immediately knew what she had to do.
Isabella’s father Gino Bertucci began looking for ways for his daughter to meet her musical idol, but Mother Nature almost got in the way.
The Bertucci family traveled to Metairie from their home near Baton Rouge and set up camp in a hotel near the Family Gras celebrations.
Having grown up listening to her mother's Cyndi Lauper albums, Isabella came dressed for the occasion, sporting a pink wig and her favorite Lauper-inspired ensemble.
But then it started raining.
Scheduled performers Michael McDonald and John Oates had to scuttle their sets as rain poured down on the crowds.
“They were talking about cancelling the whole thing,” Gino said. “They told us to stay put in our hotel room, and then all of the sudden they said ‘It’s on.’ We got a police escort and the whole nine yards.”
Finally, after four hours of delay, Cyndi Lauper burst onto the scene.
“Cyndi just said ‘This is your wish? Come on!’ and Isabella walked right on the stage with her,” Gino said.
In the middle of the show, Lauper pulled Isabella, who had cut short a steroid treatment to travel in for the show, up onto the stage.
Lauper and Isabella danced and sang to “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” as the crowd roared.
“My daughter was all star struck,” Gino said. “She was kind of quiet and shy, but she’s on steroids right now, and they make her feel kind of bad and quiet. I’ve got a feeling that as soon as she’s done with the steroids, she’s going to go ‘Ahhhh!’ and start calling everybody.”
It’s a moment Isabella and the rest of the Bertucci family will never forget, and it may have been the start of a beautiful friendship.
Lauper’s manager offered to have the singer pull Isabella up on stage any time, at any show, anywhere.
After the show, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise came over to the Bertucci family to offer his best wishes for Isabella’s recovery and pose for pictures.
Lauper also posed for pictures with the family after signing a copy of her debut record for Isabella and handing her the umbrella Lauper used on stage as a memento.
“It was awesome,” Gino said. “Cyndi Lauper went beyond the call of duty.”