Arlington teen finds new friends in quest for leukemia cure

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by CASEY NORTON

WFAA

Posted on July 22, 2012 at 4:43 PM

Updated Sunday, Jul 22 at 6:40 PM

ARLINGTON — Most families wouldn't consider a concussion on the football field to be a blessing. But that's how the Tepera family found out 13-year-old Ethan has leukemia.

On Saturday, they continued their mission to find a cure and found friends they'd never met at a bone marrow donor registration drive.

More than 100 people showed up at Grace Preparatory Academy in Arlington to have their cheeks swabbed. They will be entered into a database of potential donors to see if they might be Ethan’s match.

Right now, Ethan Tepera is too weak to play football. He's sidelined with leukemia, and praying for a cure.

"It's all through God," the 13-year-old told News 8. “He's the only reason I have made it this far."

Among the potential donors who showed up Saturday were members of his Pee-Wee football team and their parents.

"If it's one of your kids and one of your loved ones, you are going to need that help," said Albert Walters. "Why not take five minutes and come out to help?"

Others showed up to help people they never met.

Donor database group DKMS says less than 10 percent of the donor database is Hispanic, so finding a match for Ethan is more challenging than the usual 40 percent success rate.

"The minority list is really low, so why not put myself on the list?" said Anthony Meyer. "If I am not a match for Ethan, I could be for somebody else."

Melissa Tepera won't give up till she finds a cure for her son. This may not be the only donor drive.

"My hope is that not only my son, but many more lives will be saved through this," she said, holding on to Ethan.

Ethan made it through nine months of treatments. He was diagnosed after suffering a concussion at a football game in October. If he finds a donor, this may be the last football season he has to watch from the sidelines.

There's a huge need for minority bone marrow donors. If you're interested in seeing if you match, swabbing is free. You can get more information at GetSwabbed.org.

E-mail cnorton@wfaa.com

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