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BURBANK : $17,000 Raised for Boy’s Donor Search

Eleven-year-old leukemia patient Greg Smith got an infusion of something as important as medicines in his race against time and the odds: money.

More than $17,000 was raised to help Greg find bone marrow donors by a Burbank church, officials said Monday.

“When people found out there was an 11-year-old boy who was going to die, it tugged at their heartstrings,” said Peg Setti of St. Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church, who was an organizer of “Greg Smith Day” Saturday.

The church and other members of the Catholic community in Burbank have been trying to raise $6,750 to pay for testing of 300 potential bone marrow donors. They had raised nearly that much in donations before Saturday’s fund-raiser, when almost 700 people donated another $8,000. Money continues to pour in.

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“After I opened my mail this morning, we had over $17,000,” Setti said Monday, which means supporters of Greg and his family will be able to pay for up to 750 blood tests of potential bone marrow donors in the attempt to find a match for the boy.

“They just heard about it and came up and offered support,” said Teresa Smith, Greg’s mother. She said she was surprised that many of those who came out to help the fifth-grader at St. Francis Xavier Elementary School were not even part of the local Catholic community.

One contributor was an old man with an envelope filled with $3.02 in change, Setti said. Another was a brother and sister donating $3.75 of allowance money.

One mother, whose son died shortly after getting a bone marrow transplant years ago, gave Teresa Smith $1,000 left over from her son’s fund-raiser.

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Greg’s leukemia, which was diagnosed 2 1/2 years ago, was in remission until January when a sudden high fever marked his relapse. A search of national bone marrow donor banks, including 890,000 people, failed to find a match.

The church’s success in raising funds, Theresa Smith said, “just gives you hope. It makes you feel good about people.”


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