Cousin Helps Cousin | Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation

Cousin Helps Cousin

AnnaLeigh is a 5 year old little girl in our family. She has the most warming smile, joyful eyes, and a radiant shade of red hair. She is the typical 5 year old who dreams of princesses, lady bugs, and playing outside.

AnnaLeigh and her parents live two hours from me since I moved to Charlotte, NC from Seneca, SC a few years ago. I keep up with her parents through Facebook and calls. I will never forget the day I learned through Facebook that my cousin Anna was sick. At this point they didn’t know what was wrong with her and were seeking prayers. I didn’t think too much about it, kids get sick all the time, right? That was in May 2014. I just prayed, waited, and watched from my hectic life in Charlotte.

In October that year, my heart broke as I read the words, “AnnaLeigh has Aplastic Anemia. At this time there is no match for her on the national registry, she is very sick”. My mind began to race to a thousand questions to which I still have no answer to. “How can that be? How can there not be ONE match for Anna? I know she is not the only one like her! We can put people in space ships that WE created, fly them to the moon, then bring them home again. How can you tell me we can’t save our own babies!”

All I could do is sit in shock staring at her daddy’s post with tears rolling down my face. I live two hours away and I felt helpless and hopeless. What can I do to help her so far away from her and our family? I went to bed shattered and broken for our little red headed beautiful Anna.

All I thought of the next day was Anna and the fact that I am a mother of three kids myself. I am working full time at my office, going to school full time as well, and trying to manage my household. I didn’t know what to do, or even HOW I would do it, much less find the time to do it, but I knew I had to try.

I went to work calling home to SC. I was able to talk with a few ladies who are in AnnaLeigh's immediate family and mine as well, to help me start to work on events for AnnaLeigh. So with the help of these precious ladies, we began to create a blood drive, and we decided to meet to organize an event. I drove home to SC and later that day, Hope for AnnaLeigh was born.

We got busy creating awareness, swabbing events, blood drives, fundraisers, put up billboards, anything we could think of to bring more people to the national registry. We have swabbed people from all over the Carolinas, and we are not done! Hope for AnnaLeigh is now a Foundation. We continue to work hard and create events, raise awareness, and truly swab across the states.

My hope is to bring as many people to the registry as we possibly can to find a match for AnnaLeigh and other children like her.  My hope is to create new events and new ways of reaching people and adding them to the national registry. My hope is to inspire others to serve and to know that there are people like Hope for AnnaLeigh out there that care. My hope is that one day, Anna will be well and working beside me, swabbing and giving back because we have been blessed beyond measure through this process.

I never thought such a great Foundation would become of the sweet little ladies who came together to create a pancake event and blood drive for one little girl. We are Hope…Hope for AnnaLeigh. We will always be swabbing and caring and fighting aplastic anemia. Our biggest hope is that one day, we won’t have to.