Maddie Tomasko is a fighter. The 11-year-old Rockford resident was diagnosed with Leukemia back in April. She has already undergone chemotherapy and this week she returns to the hospital, after a brief stay at home, to begin her next step in recovery, a bone marrow transplant. Maddie’s family members were tested to determine if one of them could be a donor, but unfortunately none were a compatible match. Maddie’s doctors then turned to the National Bone Marrow Registry and a match was found!
Maddie will get a second chance at life through this donor, but not all are that fortunate. There are many across the country just waiting for a match and a cure. Because of this, Maddie’s mother Cheryl will be hosting a bone marrow drive in her daughter’s honor, with help from MI Blood and Sugar ‘n’ Spice Creamery. The drive will be held this Saturday, June 18, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Sugar ‘n’ Spice Creamery on Belding Rd. in Rockford, next to the Citgo gas station. The process to join the registry consists of simply meeting the general requirements, completing a registration form and health questionnaire, and then a cheek swab (no poke). No appointment is necessary and you must be between 18 and 60 years old to join the registry.
Through the help of Cheryl’s friends and the generosity of various local companies, funds have been raised to help offset the cost of this drive, which is typically $25 per donor. Currently, the first 44 people will be able to join for free, but donations from those still willing to give will be accepted, enabling even more to join by “paying it forward.” The goal is to raise enough funds so that no one is deterred due to the cost.
One of Cheryl’s friends, Sandra Mellema, whose husband is now a cancer survivor thanks to a bone marrow transplant, said, “The day of my husband’s transplant, the nurses told him it was his new birthday. We celebrate that birthday now just as much as his real birthday. This September my husband will turn 9, and in October, 37. His being with us today is such a blessing and a miracle. My five-year-old said it best while we were walking a lap together as a family at Relay for Life this year: ‘I’m glad Daddy is a cancer survivor because that means he can be here with us today.’ I am thankful for this technology that gave my husband a second chance at life. Please come and join the registry to give someone else their second chance.”