Friends, family of Evanston boy hold bone marrow drive

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Source: Rich Sims

Family and friends of 10-year-old Julian Sims (pictured on the left with his brother Miles) registered 290 people at a bone marrow drive at Ryan Field all day Monday. Julian Sims, a fifth grader at Dewey Elementary School, has leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant.

Jeanne Kuang and Paige Leskin

A bone marrow drive Monday at Ryan Field registered nearly 300 people in an effort to find donors for a Dewey Elementary School student who needs a transplant.

The family of 10-year-old Julian Sims organized the event, which lasted throughout the day on the seventh floor of the stadium.

“It was a great success,” said Stephanie Fine, a family friend who helped the Sims organize the drive. “It was really exciting to see things come together in a meaningful way for him and for anyone who needs a transplant.”

Sims was diagnosed with leukemia about five weeks ago, Fine said. When chemotherapy proved unsuccessful, the Sims decided to turn to the bone marrow registry, the family said on its page on the website for Be the Match, a national organization that runs the world’s largest bone marrow registry.

Monday’s drive added 290 people to the national registry in the hopes of finding someone who would be a match for Sims. Fine said there was a “huge outpouring of interest and willingness to do what was needed.” So many people showed up to volunteer as drive workers that many had to be turned away.

“Since the moment this started with Julian, people have been wanting to do something, and so by having an actual event, I think a lot of people just felt like they were helping in some small way,” Fine said.

Fine said the event was one of several activities the family has participated in with members of the NU athletics department, of which Sims is a fan. Northwestern students also volunteered at the drive as part of NU’s Be the Match team.

“The whole community is learning the importance of giving something that you don’t even think about,” Fine said.

The marrow drive was an extension of a blood drive organized by LifeSource, a donor center for Be the Match, that was already being held at Ryan Field on Monday.

Danielle Vickers, a marrow account manager for LifeSource, called the drive a “pay it forward” movement that extends beyond finding a donor for Sims. Those who registered will be added to the national registry and may be contacted if they are matches for other patients.

“This is giving hope to all those patients out there,” Vickers said.

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Twitter: @jeannekuang
Twitter: @paigeleskin