At Kona Ice, we love giving back to our communities. This desire has inspired us to launch a campaign promoting community giveback across our entire business. This Saturday, Kona Ice of Boone County and our Korporate HQ will be hosting our first official FLAVOR our WORLD event: a blood drive and bone marrow swab to raise awareness of a rare blood disease. Below is a personal story from Jessica Ross, a member of our Kona Korporate video team. She has had a lot of personal interaction with Evan Perricelli, the inspiration behind this Saturday’s blood drive and bone marrow swab.
I first met Evan a little over 2 years ago. He was just a kid who happened to be part of one of our photo shoots one fall weekend. He stood out because he was LOVING the camera. And well, the camera loved him. So much so that he ended up on all of our print material we use to promote Kona Ice. I didn’t see Evan again after that. That changed about a month ago.
The video team decided last spring that we wanted to tell the stories across the country of how our franchisees were giving back to the communities they lived and worked in. See, we had given back about $13 million dollars at that point – that’s a lot of money. Where was it going to? Who was being affected? We decided to find out. And along the way, we discovered some amazing stories and people with which our company had been involved. But something was missing – us. We got to capture these stories and tell them, but we didn’t get to actually be a part of it – until Evan.
Evan, at the age of 6, was diagnosed with aplastic anemia last year. It’s a rare form of blood cancer that, if not treated, is fatal. In order to be treated, he needed to have a bone marrow transplant. Luckily, they discovered that his older brother Lucas was a match and he has since had the procedure. He’s in the recovery period right now and doing well.
Because Evan had already been treated, awareness was what was really on their hearts. See, Evan was VERY lucky to have found a match in his brother. Most people (70%) rely on a perfect stranger to be a match for them. Over the course of their journey in the hospital, they had met a number of children who had no match.
Enter Kona Ice. We found out about Evan and wanted to help out in any way possible. The family suggested a blood drive where perhaps a Kona Ice truck could be present. We here at Kona just decided that we wanted to host the event here at our corporate office. So, that’s what we’re doing. We’re going to have Hoxworth here, as well as the folks from Delete Blood Cancer, so that people are able to come give blood and get swabbed and registered on the Bone Marrow Registry. AND get a free Kona to rejuvenate you after you’re done!
Our video team was privileged with the task of telling Evan’s story to bring awareness to what he, and many others, have to go through. They invited us into their home and we got to live a day with the Perricelli family. And what we discovered was a family that really loved and cared about, not only each other, but for this cause with which they’ve become so familiar. It was truly an honor to sit down and talk with them and my hope is that the video accurately portrays Evan’s story and how you can get involved.
I have really been struck by how important it is to get swabbed and make sure you’re on the Bone Marrow Registry. It takes just a few minutes to get registered, and only a few hours to donate, if you’re found to be a match for someone. And that’s all it takes to save someone’s life. To quote Dr. Robert Fitz, a bone marrow donor, “It’s really a minor inconvenience when you consider you’re helping to save someone’s life.” It amazes me how our bodies have been designed that it is possible for us to do that. And at really, not much cost to us at all.
So, I’ll be getting registered on February 1st. Will you?
Maybe you’ll get to say you helped save someone’s life.
If you can’t make it to the drive, you can gather information to be registered by visiting deletebloodcancer.org.