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On November 1, 2010, Lamar Electric Cooperative Member Services Director Marci Thompson was busy organizing a co-op blood drive when her phone rang. It was LEC member Darlena Shimpock, who asked Thompson: “Can the credits from the blood drive go to my grandson, Carter Allen Townes?”
Three days earlier, 3 1/2-year-old Carter was diagnosed with Precursor B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many immature lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. ALL is the most common type of cancer in children ages 1 to 7, but Carter’s case is rare and high risk because his body has not one, but two defective chromosomes that produce leukemic cells.
Thompson’s immediate answer was yes, and she sprang into action on Carter’s behalf, contacting East Texas Broadcasting, which operates four area radio stations, to help spread the word. Shimpock did the same throughout the community. Their efforts were rewarded.
“We had people we were turning away because we were so busy,” Thompson said, explaining that some people donated on Carter’s behalf at nearby blood drives. “People who knew the family, people who didn’t ... it was an outpouring of love.”
The first drive was so successful that Thompson organized two more for Carter. Carter’s mother, Timberley Townes, said the donation of blood-drive credits—which individuals accrue each time they give blood—has helped defray the medical expenses of Carter’s multiple blood and platelet transfusions.
Carter is surrounded by family. He, his mom and his father, Charlie, live in Clarksville near grandparents Gerald and Elaine Townes and grandparents Tim and Darlena Shimpock of Annona. All are LEC members.
Carter’s journey—blogged by his mother, other family members and friends—can be tracked here.
“We’ve met lots of wonderful people on the way,” says Darlena, Timberley’s mother. “It’s a journey, and it’s happening to show all of us something.”