The line of prospective bone-marrow donors whose hearts were touched by the life-threatening struggle facing two young Ventura County boys wrapped along a Van Nuys street Wednesday.
There were police officers and sheriff's deputies in uniform. Civilians in business suits waited patiently. Others, many of them on a day off from work, stood comfortably in T-shirts or sweatshirts and casual pants.
In one way or another, hundreds of people who showed up were eager to try to help the LaRue family of Silver Strand Beach near Oxnard find a bone-marrow match for 3-year-old Garrett and 6-month-old Blayke. The boys suffer from a rare immune system disorder, known as X-linked lymphoproliferative disease.
"If you can save someone, it's worth it," Ariadna Renteria, 21, of Van Nuys said as she filled out a registration form. "I just heard they needed people, so I'm here."
The drive in Van Nuys on Wednesday was the first of four scheduled throughout Los Angeles this month after Scott and Theresa LaRue and Scott's father, Los Angeles Police Lt. Ron "Lash" LaRue, sought help for the boys.
Last summer, the LaRues lost their 1-year-old son, Layne, to the disorder.
Organizers said the drives will also be used to search for a marrow donor for Michelle Carew, the 18-year-old daughter of former baseball star and current California Angels Coach Rod Carew. Michelle Carew, who has leukemia, has been hospitalized since mid-September. The LaRue boys remain in good health.
Ron LaRue, commanding officer at the LAPD's North Hollywood Division, beamed at the turnout.
"It's overwhelming to me," he said.
One of the prospective donors was Officer Vic Masi of the LAPD's Valley Traffic Division, who has known LaRue at least 25 years.
"As soon as I heard, I wanted to come and see what I could do," Masi said. "You can at least give it a shot. You don't know unless you get tested whether you're the person who can help."
Theresa LaRue, 29, said she was grateful to everyone who was trying to help.
"It's a roller-coaster ride," she said with a smile. "The boys are healthy right now, so that's keeping us going."