Violet Lee has been friends with Haley Brooks since they were in kindergarten. In January, Violet began planning, with the help of her parents, the Haley Brooks Benefit. The event will serve as a time for people to donate blood and platelets, hold bone marrow screenings and make financial donations toward Haley’s medical bills.
“Since the April 27  tornadoes, there have been a lot of people that have helped us through it, and it just made me want to help other people, too,” Violet said. “And since Haley has this rare blood disease, I wanted to help her so that she could get better.”
Haley has been diagnosed with Diamond-Blackfan anemia.
Lisa Brooks, Haley’s mom, said the disease keeps her daughter’s body from producing red blood cells. She said this necessitates Haley receiving a blood transfusion every other week.
Only 20 to 30 cases of Diamond-Blackfan anemia are diagnosed a year, according to the Brooks family.
Haley had been in remission from the disease since she was 4 1/2 years old, but last year the disease came back.
“It’s been worse than when she was little,” Lisa Brooks said.
On top of having a rare blood disease, Haley also has a rare blood type — A negative.
The Haley Brooks Benefit will kick off at 10 a.m. March 16 with the blood, platelet and bone marrow drive at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church. The drive will run until 12:15 p.m. A second drive at the same location will be held from 1:30 to 6 p.m.
As word about the benefit has spread, the families have begun receiving calls from musicians and others who wanted to participate in providing entertainment for the event. Some of these include three costume clubs of “Star Wars” enthusiasts, along with musicians and singers Hope Rising, God’s Way, Connie Wright, Mallory Ledford and Destiny Crittenden. Actor Robert Coles will also be doing a book signing.
Haley and Violet will also be taking the stage.
The entertainment will be provided free of charge from 1 to 9 p.m. However, donations toward expenses will be accepted. A quilt raffle will also be held to raise funds.
“Our ultimate goal is to find her a bone marrow donor,” said Laverne Lee, Violet’s mother.
“That way she would be cured,” Robert Lee said.
A bone marrow donor does not have to be the same blood type as Haley to be a match. Instead, the donor would have to be a match on 10 criteria, according to Danny Brooks. Potential bone marrow donors are screened by swabbing the person’s mouth. Potential donors are then given paperwork to become a part of the National Marrow Donor Program, according to Blood Assurance.
All proceeds will go toward Haley’s medical bills.
According to Blood Assurance, “Each day a minimum of 400 (blood) donations are needed in our area.”