CSU Dominguez Hills Hosts Walk to Benefit Patients and Families Affected by Aplastic Anemia and MDS/Bone Marrow Diseases
Los Angeles patients, their friends and families participated in the Hope, Steps & A Cure Walk for Bone Marrow Failure Diseases on Jan. 16 on the campus of California State University, Dominguez Hills. The event raised more than $15,000 to benefit the Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation (AA&MDSIF), a nonprofit that provides support to patients with bone marrow failure diseases and their families. Among the participants was the CSU Dominguez Hills NCAA Division II National Champions runner-up women’s soccer team.
The walk was held in conjunction with the 3rd Annual Mia Hamm and Nomar Garciaparra Celebrity Soccer Challenge at the Home Depot Center, which was presented by the Mia Hamm Foundation. Hamm’s mother, Stephanie Dillon Hamm, a volunteer and board member of AA&MDSIF, was one of the walk’s organizers. The event was dedicated to the memory of her adoptive son, Garrett John Hamm, who died in 1997 following complications from a bone marrow transplant.
Stephanie Hamm said that events like Hope, Steps & A Cure help build a much-needed community for patients and their families.
“Patients and families meet each other sometimes for the first time - this creates a very important community for [those] fighting these diseases,” she says.
Awareness plays a large part in finding solutions and cures to diseases such as aplastic anemia and myelodysplastic syndromes, which often require transplants, necessitating the public to come forth as potential marrow donors. Hamm says 29 volunteers and participants registered as bone marrow donors on the day of the walk, including five Latinos and three Asians, ethnicities that tend to be under-represented donor groups but are essential.
“Garrett’s situation was further complicated by the fact that he was biracial - his [biological] mother was a Thai woman and his father an American airman,” she said of her son’s case. “For this reason, Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches here in L.A. was very important in finding a marrow donor. In the end, Garrett was able to find his biological father and after a very emotional conversation his father agreed to testing and to donating his marrow for a transplant - which was Garrett’s only hope for survival.”
Hamm expressed her gratitude to CSU Dominguez Hills for hosting and providing volunteers for the Hope, Steps & A Cure Walk.
“David Gamboa and Jazmin Marquez and all of the student volunteers were incredible - especially given that the University was officially closed down,” she said. “We cannot thank them enough and frankly - from all of us on the organizing team - could not have done it without their support all along the way.”
For more information on future fundraisers by the Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation or to organize a local fundraiser, click here.
- Amy Bentley-Smith and Joanie Harmon
Photo above: Stephanie Dillon Hamm (at left), mother of national soccer champion Mia Hamm, organized the Hope, Steps & A Cure Walk in memory of her son Garrett John Hamm, who died of complications from a bone marrow transplant in 1997. L-R: Hamm, Ruth Cuadra, secretary of the executive board, Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation; and Susan Kass, mother of Emily Matilda Kass.
All photos courtesy of Ruth Cuadra