Democrats, Republicans, lobbyists, legislative staff and state employees all came together Wednesday to sign up for the worldwide bone marrow registry.
Delete Blood Cancer DKMS hosted the drive at the Legislative Building in Raleigh on behalf of Kevin LeCount, a Raleigh resident and lobbyist for the State Employees Association of North Carolina, and for Superior Court Judge Carl Fox of Orange County.
Both LeCount and Fox need bone marrow matches for transplants as they are battling acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome, respectively.
Ardis Watkins, director of government relations for State Employees Association of NC, said this is a cause that “transcends politics.”
“We want to find a match for Kevin and save our coworker,” she said. “A lot of us had no clue how easy it was to sign up and never thought about it until it hit close to home.”
House Speaker Tim Moore was one of the first to sign up Wednesday, and a number of lawmakers did as well, and encouraged their staff to do the same. The process is simple and only requires a bit of paperwork and swabbing the inside of one’s cheek with a Q-tip.
Those between the ages of 18 and 55 and at least 4 ft. 10 inches tall and 110 lbs are eligible to sign up. According to Delete Blood Cancer, the disease is the third leading cause of cancer deaths. While about 14,000 Americans need bone marrow transplants each year, less than half will find a donor match.
Demond Gooch, a Department of Public Safety employee, heard about the drive on TV Wednesday morning after a 12-hour night shift. He also heard about the need for a more diverse registry. He said being an African American, he thought it would be a good opportunity to help out and came down to sign up before getting some sleep.
LeCount, who spent the week at the hospital receiving chemotherapy, said he was watching the pictures from the drive appear on social media. He was thrilled to see how many people came out to support the cause.
“It’s important to me that my cancer can serve a greater purpose,” he said. “My prayer is that there is already a registered donor for me out there because of all the other drives across this world. Today’s drive is about helping others out there who need matches as well.”
LeCount said he has a 25 percent chance of survival without a transplant, but his chances increase tremendously with it. He has an 8-year-old son named Nathan, who he says is the center of his world.
“I want to live, but I need to survive for my son,” LeCount said. “He needs his dad.”
6-9 p.m. on Saturday at Hargraves Community Center, 216 North Roberson St., Chapel Hill, N.C. 27516
For more information:
go to deletebloodcancer.org