Before 19-year-old Hannah Walton began chemotherapy, she cut off her long, brown hair and donated it to a nonprofit that makes hairpieces for children with medical conditions.
On Tuesday, community members joined together for the “Hannah Walton Bone Marrow Screening and Replenishment Blood Drive” at the Boardman Township Government Center to donate something back to the teen.
Pastor Barry Knaub of Margaret Wynn Memorial Baptist Church in Poland said Walton was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia shortly after she graduated from Boardman High School in June.
“She’s very active in our church and when we heard what was going on, how could we not get busy? We were more than happy to partner with the Central Blood Bank,” Pastor Knaub said.
Central Blood Bank is a nonprofit organization that supplies blood products and transfusion-related services in western Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio.
Pastor Knaub said the congregation and many in the community wanted to support Walton, who had expressed interest in becoming a missionary after she graduates from college, even wearing orange wristbands emblazoned with her name.
“We’ve all rallied around her and her family,” Pastor Knaub said.
Walton, the daughter of Missy and Micah Walton of Boardman, has been receiving chemotherapy and blood transfusions at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and might become a candidate for a bone-marrow transplant. During Tuesday’s event, donors also had the option of joining “Be The Match,” a national registry for bone marrow donors.
Debbie Hunt, of Poland, was Walton’s youth group leader for many years and brought three of her co-workers from the Shell gas station in Poland with her to donate. She described Walton as “inspiring.”
“Hannah’s been very positive throughout this whole thing. She hasn’t asked ‘Why me?’ and has been very accepting and upbeat,” Hunt said.
Even those who don’t know Walton personally came out to support her.
Pam Ferguson, of Beaver Township, donates blood about two or three times each year, and read about the drive for Walton in The Vindicator.
“I saw it in the paper Sunday and I thought I’d rather give it to someone specific,” she said. “Donating blood is really very easy. It’s just like getting a flu shot and you feel good afterward.”