Great Lakes Credit Union and Little Lake County are proud to bring you “Kirby’s Kids: Little Hands, Big Hearts.” This program recognizes an extraordinary child each month and brings you their stories of determination, hope and goodwill.
A hero doesn’t always wear a cape.
Sometimes, heroes exist in the form of a little girl intent on saving her brother’s life. This month, the Kirby’s Kids program is proud to introduce Camryn, a little girl from Round Lake.
Like most girls her age, Camryn loves playing on the swings, swimming, playing soccer, singing and dancing. She loves to read, especially the Narnia books, and really enjoys camping. She seems like a normal, every day girl, but there is something special about little Camryn. She is a hero in every sense of the word, and at only eight years old, it is almost hard to believe what she has gone through.
A little over one year ago, Camryn’s younger brother Nathan was diagnosed with a very rare bone marrow failure disease called aplastic anemia. The family was very quickly thrust into a world they never thought they would be in.
Camryn split her time between being home without her brother and staying in the Ronald McDonald house in Milwaukee for over five months. Living out of a suitcase in hospital rooms became the new normal for this family. At the time, Camryn was only seven years old, but loved her brother deeply, and desperately wanted her family to be all back together again.
When Camryn was told that she was a bone marrow match for Nathan, she never even hesitated. A little girl who was afraid of needles, was able to be brave through two major blood draws (22 vials of blood in total!), as part of her pre-transplant work up. The actual bone marrow extraction process was done under anesthesia, but left her feeling sore and uncomfortable for awhile afterwards. Through it all, she never wavered. She was scared, but she knew she had to be brave, and playing with her brother again was the reward she couldn’t wait to receive!
After the transplant, the reward didn’t come as quickly as they hoped. Nathan’s recovery was slow to say the least, and the family still lived in constant worry. Finally, after a second infusion of Camryn’s bone marrow, his body started to respond, and when he moved home, the family was finally altogether again.
She was so happy she could be a match for her brother, but was not oblivious to the fact that many people do not have a matched sibling to be a donor for them (siblings only have a 25% chance of matching.) In time, Camryn began speaking openly about her experience, and encouraging family and friends to join the National Marrow Donor Registry. She even made a video for Be the Match that they use at donor registry drives.
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Her determination to make a difference has inspired so many people, and she doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Her plans for the future include a desire to sing and dance, but most importantly she wants to help others.
Although she is viewed as a hero in so many ways by so many people, she counts her brother and her parents as her own personal heroes. Camryn believes that the definition of a hero is someone who is strong, and never gives up. She also says heroes help others when they need it the most. She counts her brother’s doctor as a hero as well, since he helped Nathan get better from his illness.
This little eight-year-old has been through more than most girls her age will ever see in their lifetime. Without any regrets, a positive and bright attitude, and a desire to continue helping, she gives us a quote to live by. Continuing to inspire us, she says,
No matter how difficult it is, always do the right thing.
Are you inspired by Camryn and Nathan’s story? Camryn and her family ask you to join the fight against blood cancers and disorders. Help others just like she did by joining the National Donor Registry today!
Each and every one of our Kirby’s Kids gets to meet Kirby the Kangaroo at their local Great Lakes Credit Union branch. Kirby met Camryn and her brother Nathan at their local Round Lake branch and opened up a savings account in her name with a $50 starting balance, courtesy of Great Lakes Credit Union.
Do you know an inspirational, courageous or exceptional young person living in Lake County, (ages 13 and under) who is serving as a role model in his or her community? Help us recognize these big hearts! Nominate a child for the Kirby’s Kid program.
Follow this link to complete a nomination form. If your nominee is selected we will contact you and/or the child’s guardian for inclusion in the Kirby’s Kids program.
For more information about the Kirby’s Kids, read our program introduction.
Disclosure: Great Lakes Credit Union is the paid sponsor of the Kirby’s Kids program.