Since 2010, South Brunswick's Hugs for Brady Foundation has worked tirelessly to raise awareness that kids get cancer too. Unfortunately, the township has several reminders of this stark fact, whether it be through the fight of 9-year-old, or through 5-year old Jake Holmes, of Kendall Park.
Jake is currently waging his own battle with neuroblastoma. In honor of Jake, Hugs for Brady is teaming up with the Central Jersey Blood Center and Confectionately Yours to hold a blood drive this Sunday.
"This is so important, because these children need blood on a routine basis for the transfusions they need in order to survive," said Hugs for Brady co-founder Sherrie Wells. "They need blood to get through their treatments and keep their cell counts at the level where they need it to be."
Hugs for Brady was started by Sherrie and her husband Mike Wells, of Kendall Park, in honor of their son from pediatric leukemia. Brady was diagnosed with non-differentiated acute Leukemia in October, 2009. He went through six rounds of chemotherapy and one peripheral blood stem cell transplant during his fight with the disease. Just 72 days after Brady’s successful transplant, he relapsed before succumbing to his disease.
Since then, the Wells have raised . In 2011, the foundation held 10 blood and platelet drives, conducted 42 weeks of flower deliveries to five local hospitals, purchased and distributed 18 Brady Buggy custom built wagons to sick children, purchased 24 flat screen televisions, and 24 Wii and Xbox gaming systems installed at Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital, and secured funding for a pediatric hematology/oncology young investigator. The non-profit organization supports all causes concerning pediatric cancer, from buying custom-built wagons, computers, televisions and video games for patients, to helping finance a pediatric/hematology fellowship program.
Through their work, the Wells came in contact with Jake's mother Lori.
"Jake's mom was familiar with the foundation way before Jake got sick. We heard there was another child in town fighting cancer in November last year," Sherrie said. “Around the time we figured out who it was, Jake’s mother contacted us.”
The brave, young Jake is facing the same hardships that Brady once went through, with round after round of difficult chemotherapy treatments.
"The treatments are going well for him," Sherrie said. "No matter which type of cancer kids have, they all go through a similar protocol. They all have chemotherapy, blood transfusions, and biopsies. It's the same in the respect that it's cancer and it has to be treated aggressively."
Only about 3 percent, or approximately 304,500, of eligible New Jersey residents donate blood. Without an ample supply of blood, the odds get much longer for kids who need frequent transfusions.
"Without blood products these children have no hope," Sherrie said. "It's very important because the amount of blood product they need is amazing. I urge people to donate blood all year round, because children get cancer all year round."
The Blood Drive in Honor of Jake will be held on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at , 3391 Route 27.
To schedule an appointment visit www.cjbcblood.org and click on Donate Now, or call Jessica at 732-740-1767. Donors must present a photo or signature identification, must be healthy, weight at least 120 pounds, and be 16-years of age with parental consent. Remember to drink plenty of water before donating. All scheduled appointments will receive a free t-shirt. Walk-ins are also welcome.