Youth soccer club spearheads bone marrow donation drive

- Largo's Florida Celtics Football Club is holding a bone marrow donation drive for a member of its extended family, a 1-year-old with leukemia.

Doctors diagnosed Emilie Meza with the the disease when she was 9 months old. She's being treated at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital.

Emilie's mom Roxana Meza is a friend of one of the youth soccer moms. When they learned about Emilie's need for a bone marrow transplant, the team sprang into action.

Katy Davis organized the drive. She knows what Roxana and Emilie are going through because her daughter Anya is a leukemia patient now in remission.

"There's no feeling worse being a parent when there's nothing you can do to help them," said Davis.

Over the last few days, nearly 200 people have come to the team's drive, which the club has been holding at practice. Possible bone marrow donors must be adults between 18 and 44, so most of the people signing up for the national donor registry have been parents and supporters of the team.

Meza says doctors are working to find Emilie and 100-percent match in the next month. Meza's husband is a half match, but the chances that Emilie's leukemia goes into remission increase with a full match.

People attending the drive take swabs of their cheeks and send the materials off to Be The Match, the agency that tests and matches donors to patients in need.

Meza spends the time she's not taking care of Emilie in the hospital by trying to get the word out about bone marrow donation. Now she can focus on Emilie.

"We have good days bad days and I can't be out spreading the word you know and they're doing it for us so it means a lot that they're doing this," said Meza.

Emilie's family is raising funds for her treatment on GoFundMe at GoFundMe.com/emilie-meza.

You can pick up a swab kit to see if you can be a donor, Tuesday April 4th from 6-8pm at the Seminole Junior Warhawks Soccer Complex in Largo, located at 11500 125th St..

If you cannot make it, head to http:/join.bethematch.org/fl to have a kit mailed to you.

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