An effort is on to find someone who can save the life of an 8-year-old from University Park.
Family, friends and classmates of Bennett Williams went to Hyer Elementary School in the Dallas area for a simple cheek swab. It was more than that though. It was all in hopes that someone will be a bone marrow match for Bennett, with the help of DKMS, the international non-profit organization dedicated to the fight against blood cancer.
Williams beat cancer once. He was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2011 when he was just one year old. In 2014, after intensive chemotherapy treatment, doctors said he was in remission. But the nightmare returned in a different form in August when Williams was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndromes. It's a rare condition that could mean leukemia again.
Danielle Stephens, a local mother and active supporter of DKMS, knows personally the importance of drives like these.
"About five-and-a-half years ago, I was also diagnosed with leukemia," Stephens said. "The same type that Bennett has, and my friends and family and the community did the same thing for me that we're doing today."
While Williams and his family try to make it through this time, they also said this isn't just about Williams' well-being.
"There were like 2,200 people that showed up and about 10 people were saved because of the donations," Stephens said.
People between 18 and 30 years old are ideal bone marrow donors. Doctors said donor recipients have better long-term survival results when they get donations from people in that age group. While those are ideal, everyone in good, general health between 18 and 55 are encouraged to get swabbed and put in the registry.
Late Sunday, the family shared great news. The family has found a possible match for Williams, a man living in Germany. Williams is now in the hospital awaiting the transplant they are hoping will happen sometime next week. They said they are still thankful so many people went to the event Sunday, because there is a chance they will be saving even more lives.