I had the opportunity this week to speak with Brandi and Chris Wecks, parents to almost 2 year old Scarlett, who also happens to be a cancer survior. Chris and Brandi run a wildly successful blog www.StarringScarlett.com about their daughter's diagnosis at 2 months old and her journey to recovery. She is about to celebrate her 2nd birthday and her inspirational parents are helping her host her second blood drive.
Since Chris and Brandi are fantastic writers, I decided that this story is best told through their words- just like it has been from the beginning...
A second annual blood drive in honor of Scarlett Wecks is scheduled for this October 20th. If you live in the Tri-City and don’t know who Scarlett is yet: Scarlett was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor nearly two years ago. 12 surgeries and a year of chemotherapy later, and Scarlett is alive and well. She will be at the event to shake your hand. Well, sort of. Scarlett just happens to be turning two years old.
One year ago, we were preparing to celebrate Scarlett's first birthday, a day we were told she may never see. It had been a very long year - over 100 days in the hospital, multiple surgeries, and she was still undergoing chemotherapy, but she was doing well. We wanted to celebrate, but to also do something that would give back a little to one of the hospitals that saved her life, as well as help other patients who were fighting for their lives.
The Stanford Blood Center was more than happy to help, and with a hugely supportive community, we were able to collect just over 100 units of blood last year. Blood donation is a vital way that healthy people can help those who are sick. Patients on chemotherapy need blood transfusions frequently; at the worst point, Scarlett needed blood products transfused on a daily basis. Scarlett has a different blood type than anyone in our family, A+, so every transfusion she got was from a donor. Each time she would get a transfusion, seeing the color come back to her lips, cheeks and fingers was a huge relief. Blood donors saved her life.
The blood center staff was overwhelmed by the turn-out we had last year; they had to return to their office in Palo Alto twice to bring in extra supplies multiple times, and their entire staff stayed nearly two hours late to help accomodate more donors. By the end of the day, they were eager to schedule our next event!
This year, they will bring their mobile blood donation truck in addition to the set-up we used last year, so we hope to have less wait time and to be able to collect even more units for patients in need. Besides blood donation, we are also organizing a raffle. Each donor will get a raffle ticket, and additional tickets will be available for purchase. All profits from the raffle will go to the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundaiton, which sponors cutting-edge research on pediatric brain tumors, as well as supporting families and survivors through the life-long battle against brain tumors, their treatment and after-effects.
This year's raffle will include Golden State Warriors tickets, an autographed Raiderettes calendar, a photography session, several gift baskets, gift cards to local retailers, and some beautiful hand-made products from local artists. In addition, we will also be hosting a silent art auction, "Arts and Pints" - sponsored by the Kruz3rMob, a local bicycle club. We are grateful to Dino's Grill for their second year of support, too!
This year, the party's theme is superheroes! Blood donors were our superheroes throughout Scarlett's treatment, and now you can be one, too! [note: the family will be decked out in superhero outfits, feel free to come dressed up too!] We are excited to see this event growing - we have over 160 donation appointments to fill! - and even more thrilled to be celebrating with our amazing daughter.
She has been through so much -12 surgeries, 12 months of chemo, and now daily therapies to bring her up to speed - but she always has a smile on her face. We are trying to follow her lead, taking things in stride and pushing forward through whatever challenges we encounter. One day, we will show her how many people came out in her honor, and how many patients like her were helped from those donations. In the future, we hope that contributions toward pediatric brain tumor research will result in better treatments and cures for kids like Scarlett.
The drive will be Saturday, October 20, 2012 from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Newark at the corner of Newark Blvd. and Cedar Blvd. To register for a blood donation appointment click here, or visit Stanford Blood Center's donor website at www.sbcdonor.org.
This is an event you dont want to miss! To read more about Scarlett and her family's journey with pediatric brain cancer, visit their blog at www.StarringScarlett.com. And stay tuned for more coverage on this event on my blog!