It’s not every day that you meet an inspiring person. Last Thursday, I met one.
I was at work, and went to a random informational meeting at lunch time about donating to the Bone Marrow Registry. I’ve been thinking about it for a bit, and thought I would get some more information. I sat down at a chair in the back of the room, and there was a woman sitting in front of me. She was maybe in her late fifties, and was wearing jeans, a long-sleeve shirt, rugged boots, and a fluorescent yellow reflective vest. She looked a little out of place in a room full of business-casual, but oh well. There are a number of contractors that work at FDA while our buildings are under construction, and she had a look in her eyes and face that she was a hard worker and maybe had been out in the weather for a long period of time, so I assumed that she was one of the construction crew. Boy, was I wrong.
The facilitator for the meeting gave us quite a bit of information on marrow donation, and then told us that she would like to introduce someone whose granddaughter’s life was saved thanks to bone marrow donation. The woman in front of me with the yellow vest stood up and went to the front of the room to speak. The facilitator introduced her: “This is Jeana Moore, and she is walking across the
to raise awareness for bone marrow donation. She is walking for her granddaughter Jada, who was diagnosed with leukemia at birth.” My jaw dropped (as did everyone else’s in the room) while this woman told her story. This woman was indeed walking, physically walking, across the country. By herself. On the highway. Depending solely on the generosity of strangers for food and shelter. As of Thursday, she had walked from her home in United States Spokane, Washington (yes, that’s Washington STATE), down the west coast to Los Angeles, then headed east across the country, and was now in front of me, in the state of . With the snow slowly falling outside, and me complaining about how bitter cold it has been the last week or so, not even wanting to walk to my mailbox, I was humbled. This woman was walking 6-8 miles a day or more in 15-20 degree cold weather and single-digit wind chills. I couldn’t even bear to walk and get my mail, or put my xmas lights up outside. Maryland
Her final destination is
, where she and her family, including her granddaughter, were to meet the man who had been a match for her granddaughter and had donated his marrow. Out of the millions of people registered throughout the world, ONE man, 30 years old from New York City , was her granddaughter’s match. ONE MAN. And he was the only one who could save her life. Germany
Jeana is due to arrive in NYC on January 27, 2011. She has her route mapped out, but often does not know a single person in the towns that she stops in. She goes to local firehouses, police stations, churches in whatever town she lands in, tells her story, and is provided for. People who follow her website donate to her, or contact her to offer assistance. She told us that with increasing awareness of her walk, she is taken care of up through
. I wonder if her route takes her up US 40 since it’s a highway she can walk on. I wonder if she will pass by my house. Why do I feel so compelled to offer up our guest bed? Baltimore
Jeana truly inspired me, and humbled me. I plan to get my cheek swabbed and join the Be The Match registry, so that I might be discovered as a match for someone. Some people never find a match, and ultimately die. I think about how I would feel if Jillian needed a marrow transplant, and there was no match for her that could be found, or if there was a match, and the person was completely unaware of the registry. Often, no one in your family will be the match you are looking for – it’s a kind soul in a far away place.
As for me, after Thursday’s experience, I’m not going to complain so much when it’s frigid outside and I have to do something small like getting the mail. I’m going to remember Jeana who has walked across this country in the heat of the desert and in the northeast cold, and is doing something that I would never have the courage to do.
For more information on marrow registry, go to: http://www.bethematch.org/. Or talk to me.
For more information on Jeana, her walk, and her granddaughter Jada, you can follow Jeana on her blog: http://www.stepstomarrow.com/, or on Twitter as USwalker.