One way to be a hero: 685 stepped up to take swab, help save lives
By Staff Sgt. Celena Wilson , 379th Air Expeditionary Wing
/ Published August 18, 2006
SOUTHWEST ASIA --
You see his face everywhere. The base exchange, dining facilities, the laundry exchange, work centers and even in the bathroom.
The smiles of Cavion Holloway adorned hundreds of posters across the base advertising the Bone Marrow Registration Drive being held in his memory.
The base-wide advertising campaign drew in 685 new registrants to the C.W. Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Program during the drive Aug. 4.
Cavion, the son of Billy and Staff Sgt. Danielle Holloway, passed away Sept. 28, 2005, after a one and one-half year battle with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia or ALL.
Sergeant Holloway, with the 379th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron deployed from Seymour Johnson, organized this drive, the second one since her son's death. Her driving force - to help find matches so no one has to experience what she did.
"I just get chills every time," Sgt. Holloway said. "In fact, the last drive we held, one guy has already gotten a phone call as a potential match. And it just brings great joy to me that maybe I'm preventing another mother from feeling the pain I feel everyday."
It didn't take much to be a part of this cause.
"All it took was a cotton swab and filling out a form," said Senior Airman Amanda Groven, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing. "It was so easy, everyone who can register, should. There were no needles, no blood, but there was a lot of information and eager people to share it."
With the help of 63 volunteers from Desert 5 and the 379th Expeditionary Medical Group, the right side of the Desert Eagle Lounge was bustling throughout the day and even past the scheduled closing time.
"The event ran smoothly, wait times were minimal and all because of the amazing volunteers from across the base," said Chief Master Sgt. Arvin Davis, 379th AEW command chief master sergeant. "Because of the volunteers' hard work and donor's strength of character, our Air Force family will always answer the call and share the ultimate gift of hope with others; not only with this bone marrow drive, but with the mission we perform day in and day out across three theaters of operation."
Being in a deployed environment with high heat and humidity didn't hamper anyone's spirits - in registering or volunteering.
"I wanted to volunteer because I met Sergeant Holloway back at Seymour Johnson and she told me about her son and what he had gone through," said Staff Sgt. Galicia Castillo, 379th AEW Command Post, who also registered. "I am also a mother of two children and I can't imagine losing one of them. I admire Sgt. Holloway for her strength. She inspired me to volunteer. I wanted to make a difference in some else's life. We are protecting lives here as well as helping save lives actively back in the states by supporting the Bone Marrow drive.
The impact of registering more than 650 people was overwhelming. I have peace of mind because I know my part helped increase the amount of registered donors and gave other parents hope."
Senior Master Sgt. Tony Nussbaum, 379th Expeditionary Communications Squadron, was inspired to volunteer after hearing Sergeant Holloway's story and because of a friend battling cancer back home.
"I have a great friend at my home station that is going through Chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant," he said. "He hasn't had much luck matching up with a donor. The more people we can get added to the registry the more people that can be saved. We had almost 700 people register and it only takes one to help someone."
After the last form was processed and the last envelope sealed, all of the samples and forms were packaged up and shipped back to the States the same night.
"I wanted to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for everything they did today," Sgt. Holloway said. "It's great to see so many people willing to give up their time to help put this worthwhile event on and to those who came out and registered. Even though my son isn't here today, maybe all of our efforts will help someone in need. Being involved in events like this and seeing the passion of others wanting to help that makes each day without my little boy a little better for me."
For anyone interested in organizing a drive, visit the C.W. Bill Young DoD Marrow Registry Web site at www.dodmarrow.com.