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Marrow drive draws a crowd

Trux and Lauren Dole were emotionally overwhelmed at the turnout for a bone marrow drive that was held Sunday for their son, Gage.

As it turns out, so were its organizers.

According to family friend Barbara Mount, a surprising 463 people showed up at Hallinan Elementary School to have their blood drawn and see if they could be the match needed for Gage's upcoming transplant.

Gage, a 5-year-old student at Hallinan, was recently diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia, a fast-growing and the most common cancer of the blood and bone marrow.

He is currently undergoing chemotherapy at Oregon Health and Science University to prepare his body for the transplant.

New York-based DKMS Americas, a group that connects bone marrow and stem cell donors with patients in need, conducted the local drive.

The Hallinan drive drew potential donors from across Oregon and was reportedly the largest in DKMS history. The National Bone Marrow Registry estimates that most drives draw an average of 20 participants.

Each 'donor' will have his or her information placed in the National Bone Marrow Registry, where hospitals, including Gage's, will select matches based on a variety of factors.

Out of the registry's 5.5 million available donors, searches have already netted 14 possible matches for Gage.

Though the probability that Gage and a local donor will match is low, many people at the drive voiced enthusiasm for helping any way they could, Mount said.

'There was no hesitation at all,' she said. 'You have to think there is a chance you'll be his match and you can save his life.'

Additionally, monetary donors contributed about 60 percent of the cost associated with the marrow testing, Mount said.

'You can't ask people to have a needle put in their arm and give money,' she said. 'That's a little tough.'

At the drive, Trux Dole spoke to the crowd and thanked them for their ongoing support.

About 40 volunteers worked the 8-hour shift, and more than $2,000 was raised from a bake sale held on-site.

'We were just overwhelmed, extremely grateful and super impressed by the sense of community,' Trux said. 'We're truly impressed with what a wonderful community we live in.'

The Doles are still searching for temporary housing in Seattle, where Gage will undergo the transplant at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance once a match is found.

On Saturday, a number of local businesses will participate in the 'Gage's Gang Community Effort Drive' to help offset the cost of the Dole's medical expenses. A percentage of each store's daily sale will go to Gage's aid.

They include: Lamb's Palisades Market, Bellagio's Pizza (on McVey Avenue), Pacific Coast Coffee, Zeppos (Monday only); Meringue Boutique, Wiz Bang Toys, Upper Crust Bread Company, Lucky Me, Maggie Elizabeth, Accessories from the Heart and Grand Papery and Gifts.

Any other businesses interested in participating in the drive can contact organizer Kellie Mann at 503-819-4366.

To learn more about Gage, and to track his progress, visit: .