Family, friends come out to ABC11 Match Madness

ABC11 Together highlights the strength of the human spirit, good deeds, community needs, and how our viewers can help

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Sunday, March 20, 2016
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Tisha Powell poses for a picture at Saturday's event

DURHAM (WTVD) -- ABC11, Radio One, and Univision 40 hosted the annual ABC11 Together Match Madness Bone Marrow Donor Registration Drive Saturday at the Streets of Southpoint in Durham.

The Match Madness campaign is a partnership with Be The Match whose mission is to provide hope for a cure by connecting patients with life-saving marrow donors.

Many familiar faces from ABC11 were out at the event such as Steve Daniels, Tisha Powell, Don "Big Weather" Schwenneker, and Caitlin Knute.

But there were people at event who might not be recognized - families who have loved ones whose lives depend on finding a match.

That includes Carrie Minnick and her husband who are raising awareness for their 3-week-old son, Camden.

"He was born with a very rare disease called HLH that's life-threatening," said Carrie. "It's a cell disease where your cells attack each other and it damages your brain your liver and your bone marrow."

Camden was born six week premature and is fighting to get healthy enough for a transplant. His family hopes to have found a match by then.

The registration process is pain-free. It involves a simple swab of the cheek to enter into the global database.

Another important goal for the event was getting people of different ethnicities to register because some minorities are very under-represented on the registry.

One woman, Anna Zarate Hauser, was at the event for just that reason. Her brother needs a match but Filipinos account for less than one percent of those on the registry.

Julia Fisher encourages registration as well after her one-year-old son Luka was born with a rare genetic disease that caused his bone marrow to fail. He found a donor, but sadly died from complication.

His family is still grateful for the gift of home that the donor gave them, and they attend events like this to support others.

"We met so many families who are still waiting for a bone marrow donor to come through as a perfect match," Fisher said. "So anyone registering today could be that match."