In February 2015, Rialto resident and retired Omnitrans coach operator Gaylord Hicks was diagnosed with MDS, a rare form of blood cancer. This loving dad and granddad is now fighting for his life, in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant. Attempts to identify a match from siblings and the National Bone Marrow Registry have been unsuccessful.
Last month, several Omnitrans employees volunteered to be tested as a possible bone marrow donor in the hope that they would be able to help save Gaylord’s life or lives of others in need. The test is so simple. Just a quick swab inside your cheek can determine if you are a match to provide a lifesaving transplant .
Omnitrans HR Assistant Jennifer Villalobos was one of those who were tested as a possible match.
“If I’m not a match for Gaylord, my screening will stay in the system and I could be matched with someone years later,” she explains. “How could I not give up a little convenience for someone experiencing the fight to live? Donating could be the most significant thing I do in life, the greatest gift one can give. And I’d do it again.”
Family friend and Omnitrans coach operator Debra Downton feels the same way. “Gaylord is a great man who always goes out of his way for others,” she says. “He has such a big heart. When I first moved out here, he took me under his wing because I have no family. He still checks up on me to make sure I’m doing alright. I call him Big Daddy because he’s always doing for other people and doesn’t like to have people do for him. Even now, he never complains. When I ask how he is, he just says ‘I’m okay, I’m okay. Just a little tired.’ He is a wonderful man, and we are all so grateful for the kindness and support of people who are reaching out to help him.”
Bone Marrow Drive to be held May 30th
On Saturday, May 30th from 10:00 – 4:00, a Bone Marrow Drive will be held at 505 N. Arrowhead, Suite 505/505a in San Bernardino. Those interested are invited to attend, enjoy free refreshments, and be tested as a possible bone marrow donor for Gaylord or others. For more information on this event, please contact Gayla Hicks-Wheeler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about blood cancer and the different ways you can help, please visit http://bethematch.org.
-Juno Kughler Carlson