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Cancer patients honored during Superhero 5K Red Cross blood drive: River Valley runners and supporters can give blood to honor local girls

Greater Ozarks-Arkansas

April 17, 2014
 

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark.  — During a race, runners must focus on moving toward the finish line, despite pain and obstacles they might meet. In the spirit of that challenge, the River Valley Superhero 5K is partnering with the American Red Cross to host a blood drive in honor of three local girls fighting to win their marathon battles with cancer.

The Superhero 5K race will help raise funds to offer financial assistance to the families of Breya Bunting, Korey Heath and Morgan Schwehm, who have all been diagnosed with cancer.

River Valley Superhero 5K blood drive:

May 17 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Russellville Junior High School, 2000 West Parkway Drive, in Russellville, Ark.

The Superhero 5K blood drive will help ensure blood products are available for these girls and other patients like them whenever and wherever needed.

Breya Bunting, 3, was diagnosed with high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia in July 2013. Her family constantly monitors her blood counts, due to a weakened immune system and ongoing aggressive chemotherapy treatments. Her care requires an average of three trips to Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) a week, and Breya has needed more than a dozen blood and platelet transfusions since her diagnosis.

“You never know when your family might be on the side of needing blood,” Breya’s mother, LisaMcCutcheon, said. “Your donation can really help save a life.”

Korey Heath, 13, began experiencing severe headaches in July 2012. Initially, doctors diagnosed her with migraines. But treatment provided no relief, so her family sought a second opinion at ACH. Korey’s physicians discovered a brain tumor, diagnosed her with medulloblastoma and scheduled her for surgery.

“It was like 100 kicks to the gut,” said Korey’s father, Mike Heath. “The diagnosis was completely out of the blue, and I don’t think we have completely recovered from the trauma of all of this, yet.”

The tumor was removed, but Korey endured chemotherapy and radiation treatments that wiped out her blood and platelet counts. Korey said she received 20 blood product transfusions. She’s now cancer-free, working to try and live her life as a typical teenager and is excited about the idea of a blood drive as part of the Superhero 5K.

“We all think it is great,” Mike Heath added. “She is so indebted to all that gave for her, and she would love to be able to help others.”

Morgan Schwehm turned 3 years old in April. She was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma in August 2013 after suffering stomach pains and dramatic weight loss. Doctors detected a football-sized tumor in her abdomen. After surgery, Morgan has continued chemotherapy treatments, and received a stem cell transplant. She’s required dozens of blood products to help her in her fight.

“I never realized how important giving blood or platelets was,” said Morgan’s father, Jeremy Schwehm. “It wasn’t something I really thought about. Now, I know what it means to a family who needs it. All you have to do is take a walk through a children’s oncology ward to realize how important it is. Families like us rely on people who are willing to give, and we’re so thankful they are there.”

How to donate blood

Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in Arkansas), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

About the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.