MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – People filed into the Hotel Morgan ballroom on Tuesday afternoon, for a blood drive and bone marrow registry event to honor Del. Danielle Walker’s late son, Demetry.
Demetry Walker died on June 19, 2021, five days before his “golden” 24th birthday, from Chronic Myeloid Leukemia. Before he died, his mother said, he created Walker’s Warriors, which organized the blood drive and bone marrow registry event. Del. Walker said her son created it, because he wanted to take “everyone” along with him on his journey with his disease.
He wanted people to understand that he didn’t do what he was supposed to do by going to his primary care provider (PCP) when he first started feeling bad. He also wanted to shed some light on being a black gay man in West Virginia, his trials and tribulation, how he received blood products when he did his bone marrow biopsy. And, also, just the ins and the out of the health care industry because he was also in nursing student.
Demetry passed nursing school, shortly, before his death and never truly got to enjoy the spoils of his labor. But others can, his mother said.
Walker’s Warriors’ event at Hotel Morgan saw dozens of people signed up to give blood and register to become bone marrow donors. All of this has the potential of saving an immeasurable number of lives.
At the same time, the event served as a means to celebrate Demetry’s legacy, the legacy of a warrior.
“This is celebrating the life and the legacy of exactly what Demetry wanted,” Walker said. “I am overjoyed. I am proud of my kin. He knew exactly what this community needed and this is the unity we needed. But also shedding a light on how important blood products are, how important it is – we need to match for bone marrow. And so I’m overjoyed that Dmitry took this to the next level.”
Because Demetry did not go to his PCP when he, initially, felt sick, he wanted others to avoid his error. That is why Mon Health and WVU Medicine were both community partners in Tuesday’s event. They were there to show people that access to a PCP can be vital in catching and fighting diseases like leukemia.
Other community partners who were present included the American Red Cross and the NAACP. Walker said she was grateful for every single one of the community partners.
“We are Mountaineers,” she said. “And as Mountaineers, we always come together because we take care of each other. Where there is a Mountaineer, there is love. There is strength. There is determination. Where there is a Mountaineer there is hope. I just had a transition from an Earth angel to a heavenly angel. And he touched many Mountaineers throughout this state and throughout this world. And I appreciate each and every one of you knowing his name, saying his name, remembering his name, and celebrating my son Demetry Mack Walker.”
If you were unable to attend the blood drive and registry event, there are other ways to help. One way is to support Walker’s Warriors.
“You can support us by getting some swag,” Walker said. “We have T-shirts, bracelets, pins and you can also donate directly to the scholarship fund with Your Community Foundation (YCF). This scholarship is because we need health care professionals and this is aimed at anybody pursuing nursing, or who want to do a medical career with a community-based education highlighting minorities and LGBTQIA+ students.”
The YCF fund, Walker said, is in Demetry Walker’s name. You can reach YCF online, or by calling directly 304-296-3433.