The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

February 23, 2014

Community gathers in Jefferson for donor event to save lives

Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — A village businesswoman was the catalyst for a community effort that went far beyond organizers hopes on Saturday at the Jefferson Community Center.

Jaime Hofstetter Marrison is fighting multiple myeloma and is in need of a bone marrow donor that matches her needs.

Area residents responded in force to help Marrison and many other people as well.

“We had 309 people who got swabbed. This is one of the largest single-person events they have ever had in northeastern Ohio,” said her husband David Marrison. “We had probably 1,000 people attend,” he said.

In addition to looking for donor match for Marrison, the event raised an estimated $20,000 to help the Be The Match Foundation find donor matches for other people as well.

People were funneled into the community center and potential donors from 18 to 44 years of age were given four Q-tip-like swabs to collect saliva from which bone marrow calculations may be made.

“Ashtabula County has been so great,” Jaime said while greeting some of the hundreds of people who came to the event.

“It is humbling to see how many people have come out,” she said.

She obviously hopes they are able to find a match for her, but hopes other people will find potential matches as well. “I don’t want to ever hear that there is not a match,” she said.

Marrison was diagnosed with the disease on Jan. 4, 2011, and was able to get a transplant from her own cells that worked for two years, but doctors are now recommending an “allogeneic transplant” that involves a “donor.”

All of the expenses for the event are covered by the foundation, but the Marrison family wanted to raise money to help others as well.

Bryan Hagerdon, of Jefferson, participated in the swab for a cure program and hopes he is able to help someone. “I went to school with Jaime,” he said.

Tonya Davis, community engagement representative for the National Marrow Donor Program, said everybody’s odds (of finding a match) are a little bit different based on race and ethnicity.

She said the event was excellent. “This definitely says a lot about Jaime and her family,” Davis said.

“The support she has gotten from this county is absolutely unreal,” said Jim Hofstetter (Jaime’s father).