Rock Out; Save A Life



    Members of the band The Bunny Gang, featuring Nathan Maxwell [left] of Flogging Molly visit the LHSF booth at Denver’s Riot Fest 2015.

    According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, blood cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Mike Peters, singer of the band The Alarm, and James Chippendale, owner of an entertainment insurance company, were both diagnosed with leukemia and survived. Their good fortune inspired them to help others with cancer. In 2007, they created the Love Hope Strength Foundation (LHSF).


    “Initially, what they were doing was big treks and hikes and they’d have musicians come with them on the hikes and play along acoustically along the trail,” said Katie Poppert, RN, Vice President of Programs for LHSF. “The money they raised they would keep in that community. They [hiked] Kilimanjaro and that money stayed to help build the first child’s cancer ward in Tanzania.”


    In late 2008, LHSF spread its reach from single events to touring with bands and having booths at festivals. To date, they added 109,000 people to the national bone marrow registry and helped facilitate 1,848 potentially life saving matches.


    LHSF will be in Chicago for Riot Fest, September 11-13 in Douglas Park. At last year’s event, they were able to add 368 people to the registry. Four of those patrons were potentially life saving matches. One of those potential matches was Stephanie LaBomascus, MD, Chief Resident, Department of Internal Medicine at Rush University Medical Center.


    “I see patients who are donors all the time and I’ve had patients that have been signed up, got a match, then somebody backed out or it didn’t work out,” said LaBonascus, who plans to be a leukemia doctor. “All I know about my recipient is that it’s a 59-year-old woman with [Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia]. That’s all they could tell me…. That could be my mom. That could be my mom’s friend. That could be me someday. So of course I would do this.”


    Getting on the national bone marrow registry is simple and can be done with a free kit from A person who meets the qualifications takes a Q-Tip, swabs the inside of their cheeks for about 20 seconds, wraps the sample and sends it in. Once a donor is on the list, they can stay on it until they ask to be taken off or reach age 61. If someone is a match, about 70 percent of the time the bone marrow is harvested through the blood. Typically, the recipient’s insurance covers all costs. Costs not covered by insurance, like travel, Delete Blood Cancer DKMS pays for.


    Delete Blood Cancer DKMS is the world’s largest bone marrow donor center. All donations given to LHSF are sent to Delete Blood Cancer DMKS to help register more people.


    “We 100 percent support [LHSF] and try to give them everything they need to make their job easier.” said Desirée Chavis, Communications Associate for Delete Blood Cancer. “What they’re doing is increasing the chances that more people can find matches.”


    Approximately 30 percent of potential donors are Hispanic/Latino, African American, Asian, American Indian/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander or mixed raced combined. While nearly 70 percent are Caucasian..


    Chevon Linear attended Lollapalooza earlier this year. She, along with over 1,000 patrons, registered with LHSF.


    “If more minorities signed up to donate bone marrow, there would be a higher possibility of them surviving,” said Linear, who’s African American. “I lost someone to cancer. I know how hard it can be on families, on children, on the individual. So if I can help make that load lighter I will.”


    Poppert hopes that more people like Linear and LaBonascus step forward.


    “What people don’t realize is that there are thousands out there waiting for that perfect match, and that it is such a specific match,” said Poppert. “Unfortunately there are still thousands that die every year because they don’t have that match…. It’s one thing to die from cancer, but it’s a whole other heartbreak when you die because you can’t find a match. There is a match out there for everyone.”