B+ 4 CHaD Kids: Cam Marshall's Story
B+ is not just 9 year old Cameron Marshall's blood type, it is his, and his family's, motto. When Cam was diagnosed with leukemia in July of 2008, and found out his blood type, he latched on to it as a mantra for hope in fighting his cancer. But it didn't take long for the Marshall family to realize they were not alone in this fight and rather than focus inward on their struggle, they are choosing to focus on others, and other CHaD families are the benefactors.
B+ (B Positive) emerged during the debut of Cam's Course, a new component of the CHaD Half Marathon in 2008. Dedicated to Cam, members of the Lyme, NH community emerged 400 people strong to support Cam during the event. Supported by two anonymous donors who paid for and matched all the Cam's Course participants' registration fees, Cam's family, including all 7 siblings, mom and dad, showed up in yellow t-shirts sporting the B Positive slogan. But what they found was a community in support of them. As Cam was carried across the finish line by his school principal, Jeff Valance, the crowd hummed Chariots of Fire, a moment anyone on the Dartmouth Green that day would not soon forget.
It was about that time that Elena Marshall, Cam's devoted and inspirational mother, came to CHaD leaders and discussed expanding their personal motto of B+ in support of CHaD. Elena's and the family's wishes were to use Cam's illness as an opportunity to "pay it forward" and look for ways to help other CHaD families. With Cam and Elena, CHaD leaders and the support of an anonymous donor, work began to conceptualize the plan. Orange bracelets with the slogan were purchased to help spread the word. But who knew, Cam was about to figure it out on his own.
Cam, on one of his lowest days, lay on the couch dozing and thinking about what to do with B positive. There were copyright issues, design issues; so many things to think about. Elena shared what happened that day. "I was carrying him to the bathroom, because he was too sick to walk, and I said, it's been a tough day honey. He replied, 'It's been a great day mom. I've come up with the name. It's B+ 4 CHaD Kids. That says it all.'"
Cam was right. It said it all. For Christmas, Cam launched his own personal secret Santa campaign. Raising nearly $3,500, the family requested the money be used to provide daily fresh fruit baskets on all three CHaD inpatient units and purchase several small refrigerators for patient rooms. The refrigerators help families afford to nourish themselves while their child is hospitalized, an experience the Marshalls have had plenty of throughout Cam's treatments this past fall and winter. The work and plans continue as the Marshalls and the Friends of CHaD work together under the framework: B+ for CHaD Kids.
The B+ for CHaD Kids movement is operated with the expressed permission of The Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation (www.BePositive.org).