Local/State

Big Weather is going bald!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

There was an amazing turnout Friday at the ABC11 "Be the Match" bone marrow donor drive at Southpoint Mall.

At least 275 people signed up to join the fight against cancer.

It's a cause near and dear to the hearts of the ABC11 family. One of our co-workers recently lost his son, Joshua Chavis, to leukemia.

People showed up to the bone marrow donor drive by the hundreds. Some came out of curiosity.

"We were just in the mall and walked by and we've both wanted to do it for a while," said James Goerke.

Others came out with an agenda.

"I'm a nurse. So, I've done some time in the pediatric department at the hospital and it's a big deal for anyone to get these," said bone marrow donor Renee Olsen.

They all wanted one thing -- a chance to save a life.

"It's important for us to do just a small thing to donate what we already have to someone who doesn't," said donor Jocelyn Lucas.

Lucas is supporting her friend, Sheldon, who is waiting to find the right donor, and hoping she could be his match. Every new donor increases that chance for patients like Sheldon.

However, it can be a difficult process.

"Out of every 300 - 400 people that I put on the registry, we might find one match for a patient," said Betsy Letterle, with the Be the Match registry.

"We have a patient here that we transplanted almost a year ago who had one match out of the whole registry," said Duke's Dr. Nelson Chao. "So there's like 16 million people worldwide. So that's amazing."

Thomas Goode, who has had three stem cell transplants, was lucky enough to find a donor match in his brother.

"They took the cells from his arm, and then they harvested them," said Goode. "They put me on high dose chemotherapy and they gave the cells back to me."

Now he's telling his story at events like these to draw in new donors.

"These people don't know how many lives they can save. Because it's not just one," said Goode. "They could be a donor for a lot more than one person. They can save a life just like mine."

ABC 11 meteorologist Don Schwenneker led the drive and vowed to shave his head live on the air if we reached 250 donors, and we did.

Tune in Wednesday morning starting at 6 a.m. to see Big Weather lose his locks.

If you missed Friday's event, you can still sign up online at marrow.org

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