Loyola students helping classmate find bone marrow donor

Freshmen raising cash to help Joe Gorman, battling leukemia, test for matches

August 14, 2010|By Mary Gail Hare, The Baltimore Sun

The freshman class at Loyola Blakefield is trying to carry out the school motto, "men for others," as students rally around classmate Joe Gorman.

The 14-year-old, who has attended the private school since sixth grade, is fighting acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a rare genetic form of the blood disease. He needs a bone marrow transplant, but no family member is a suitable match.

Gorman's classmates, who are too young to be marrow donors themselves, are raising money with carwashes, raffles and other events. Ian Silverman has raised $1,500 in pledges for a 3-mile swim-a-thon next month.

The boys have also talked their parents into organizing a bone marrow drive Tuesday on the Towson campus and have helped raise much of the $17,000 needed to process swabs collected during the drive. The goal is to enroll 500 donors for the National Bone Marrow Registry.

"We can't participate in the bone marrow drive, but we can do whatever to help Joe," Ian said. "We are all sticking with him to help him in this battle."

When classes resume, the boys will resume their weekly prayer meeting for their friend, a gathering some have continued through the summer. And, they will keep wearing their "Joe" hats — the same navy blue Loyola caps that the rest of the school wears, but with "Joe" written on the back.

"These are boys who don't always know how to express themselves with words, but they are doing everything they can to tell Joe how much they care," said Dawn Silverman, Ian's mother.

Testing, which involves a simple cheek swab, is free. Donors must be generally healthy and between the ages of 18 and 60. The drive is from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Loyola Blakefield, 500 Chestnut Ave., Towson.

For more information, visit joinforjoe.com.

mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

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