NEWBURYPORT — The city’s 3/4 Girls Lacrosse team will host a car wash and bake sale Saturday afternoon to raise money for Heeth Atanasoff, an athletics-loving 8-year-old boy who has severe aplastic anemia.
Heeth, a third-grader at Francis T. Bresnahan Elementary School this past year, was diagnosed with the rare blood disorder in February and initially scheduled to receive a bone marrow transplant in April.
His 10-year-old sister, Keene, was a match and had planned to be the donor, but some unforeseen medical circumstances prevented the transplant from taking place as scheduled.
With the transplant on hold, the medical team at Dana-Farber and Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center in Boston had to move forward with antithymocyte globulin immunosuppressive therapy to attempt to rebuild Heeth’s supply of bone marrow cells.
According to his family, Heeth has to wait a few months to see if this treatment succeeds. If not, a bone marrow transplant may still need to take place.
Heeth’s birthday is in August and his family is hoping to have some answers by then.
For now, he undergoes transfusions every few days at The Jimmy Fund Clinic to keep his platelets, red blood cells and white blood cells at a functioning level, his family said.
In the meantime, there is a fundraiser set up through the Children’s Organ Transplant Association called “COTA for Heeth’s Hope,” which has raised more than $70,000 of its $100,000 goal.
Keene’s lacrosse coach, Jake King, helped organize the car wash and bake sale this weekend with the hope of assisting the family with their medical expenses.
“She’s an absolute sweetheart,” King said of Keene.
Though mask mandates were lifted during the season, Keene continued to wear her mask during practices and games and took extra health and safety precautions for the sake of her brother.
“You could always see that she had a huge smile behind that mask though,” King said, noting that some of the games took place in 95-degree weather, but Keene carried on with no complaints.
The car wash and bake sale will take place at the Newburyport High School semi-circle, 241 High St., between 1 and 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Approximately 20 third and fourth grade girls lacrosse players and their coaches will be there to wash cars in exchange for donations.
While this happens, people are encouraged to get out of their cars and check out the bake sale, which will have homemade treats for both humans and dogs.
There will also be a drawing to win a Maverik lacrosse stick. Cash or checks made payable to Children’s Organ Transplant Association will be accepted and all prices will be suggested, so people can donate whatever amount they wish.
In addition to this event, there will be a 30 Days of Giveaways to raise money for COTA for Heeth’s Hope later this summer.
Local parents Amber Roback and Kristen Bonavita have been working to collect hundreds of dollars worth of donated prizes from local individuals and businesses.
There will be daily drawings for these prizes between July 12 and Aug. 10. One donation of any amount — $10, $20, $50, $100 or whatever someone chooses — will enter participants into each daily drawing, either until they win or the event ends.
If someone wins, they can make another donation to be entered into the drawings again. Donations must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. the day before any drawing to be given a chance to win.
Winners will be announced at https://www.facebook.com/COTAForHeethsHope.
More information on all of these events, as well as blog posts following Heeth’s story and the link to the fundraiser can be found at https://cota.org/campaigns/COTAforHeethsHope.
A previous story on Heeth can be found at https://www.newburyportnews.com/news/local_news/newburyport-boy-8-to-receive-bone-marrow-transplant/article_734622b6-2ddb-5eaa-802f-3c926df0242f.html.