There Goes My Hero was featured in the September issue of Greenspring Valley Neighbors. The magazine highlights the families, nonprofits, and businesses around the Greenspring Valley area of southern Baltimore County. We were proud to share the story of how There Goes My Hero started, and how local businesses and schools in the area have hosted bone marrow registry drives.
On a bright day this summer, volunteers in red shirts greeted workers in the courtyard of an office park in Owings Mills. The volunteers were from the local non-profit There Goes My Hero, and they were looking for potential life-savers. Before Erik Sauer founded Hero in 2010, his background was in helping businesses grow, and now, Hero is hoping to tap back into the business community to find potential bone marrow donors for the thousands and leukemia and blood cancer patients in need of bone marrow transplants.
In 2005, Sauer founded On3 Strategies, a strategic coaching and business development consulting company that works closely with business owners to help them succeed. While his business — and his family — was growing, Sauer had to put everything on hold. In 2008, he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and was told that he would need a bone marrow transplant to survive. His wife had just given birth to their second son.
He soon found out that he was in the 70% of patients who can’t find a donor within their family, and would need to rely on the kindness of a complete stranger to save his life. He was lucky: a 19 year-old German woman was a match, and willing to donate her blood stem cells.
When Sauer recovered from the chemotherapy, transplant, and side effects, he knew he wanted to make sure that all patients felt the hope he felt when he was told he had a donor. For those with European ancestry, the likelihood of finding a perfect match is about 75%, but for those with African and Asian ancestry, the likelihood is about 20% and 40%, respectively (patients are more likely to match with someone who has a similar ethnic background, and people with African and Asian ancestry and underrepresented on the National Marrow Donor Program registry). In 2009, he created the There Goes My Hero Foundation to provide hope and support to blood cancer patients and their families.
To date, Hero, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, has added over 17,300 people to the bone marrow donor registry, through drives at independent high schools like Loyola Blakefield, Notre Dame Preparatory School, and Maryvale Preparatory School; through partnerships with the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults and WNST radio; and at patient-specific events. This has resulted in 236 matches and 26 live-saving transplants.
This fall, Hero is engaging with companies across the Baltimore area to continue adding potential life-savers to the registry. In July, Hertzbach & Company, P.A. invited Hero to swab at the Red Brook Boulevard Office Park in Owings Mills, and Norris Automotive invited Hero to swab at seven locations across the Baltimore area. This fall, Hero will be swabbing at Bob Bell Automotive showrooms and other businesses in the area as part of our lunch-and-learn corporate swab program, where employees can learn more about blood cancer, bone marrow donation, and get on the registry. To find out more or schedule a drive, visit www.theregoesmyhero.org.