Local Dallas Family recognized for their commitment to increase the number of lifesavers for blood cancer and blood disorder patients. Event Raises Over $75K.
Dallas, TX, November 18th, 2020: International nonprofit DKMS, the organization leading the fight against blood cancers and blood disorders, hosted its virtual Awards Breakfast celebrating local Dallas-Fort Worth heroes on Wednesday, November 18th. The event raised over $75,000 that will go towards adding more potential lifesavers to the donor pool.
Medical professionals, blood cancer patients, bone marrow donors, DKMS supporters and community members gathered virtually for the 2020 Awards Breakfast, which recognized a local family for their tireless efforts on behalf of DKMS to raise awareness and inspire others to register as bone marrow donors.
This year’s honorees were the Whitson Family from Dallas. The Whitson family’s world was turned upside down in 2016 when David Whitson was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Without a stem cell transplant, David would have had only a 5% chance at survival. Six days after diagnosis, he was put on a ventilator, placed in a medically induced coma and started his first round of chemotherapy. Fortunately, David was able to quickly find a match, received a successful transplant later that same year and two years later was able to return to the work he loves as a United Airlines pilot. Since his diagnosis in 2016, the entire Whitson family has been deeply involved with DKMS in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. They have raised awareness, registered countless donors, and their son, Jake, served for two years on the DKMS Youth Advisory Board. Jennifer, David, Jake, and Josh Whitson have gone above and beyond so that blood cancer patients can find their perfect match and have a second chance at life.
This year’s event was hosted by Ginger Allen, award-winning senior investigative reporter for the CBS 11 I-Team. The honorary chairs were Vicki & Neal Roy and Chelle & Payne Lancaster. The host committee included Dallas’ own Danielle and Chad Stephens.
“Each year, the Awards Breakfast brings together the Dallas-Fort Worth community and raises critical funds in support of our mission to raise awareness, register bone marrow donors and ultimately, help save lives,” said Heather Lynn, Directory of Global Special Events for DKMS. “We are proud to have the Whitson family be a part of our DKMS family as they have played a significant role in our mission, inspiring so many others to register as donors and join the fight. Their unwavering dedication to our cause has – literally – provided patients with a second chance at life.”
To show the impact of how important being a bone marrow donor is to those fighting blood cancer, this year, DKMS featured a local young woman who donated bone marrow to a patient in need. Alayna Thomas joined the registry with DKMS at the University of Texas, Dallas in 2016. Three years later, she received a life-changing phone call that she was a 100% match with a young girl battling acute myeloid leukemia (AML). “Letters from my recipient have helped me realize how important it was that I made the decision that I did that day when I walked by that table and registered to be a bone marrow donor,” Thomas shared. “It made any pain and discomfort that I felt in my lower back after my procedure so worth it. I would do it over and over again if I could.”
During the ceremony, DKMS also paid tribute to the more than 10 million potential lifesavers registered with DKMS, globally.
Since 2011, more than 100,000 Texans have registered as potential bone marrow donors and over 200 have given patients a second chance at life. Each year, the DKMS Awards Breakfast helps raise critical funds needed to support these efforts and recruit more potential donors.
A simple cheek swab is all it takes to register as a potential bone marrow donor. For more information on DKMS, to register or to fund the mission, please visit dkms.org.