Lorelei Decker is alive in part because of the blood she's received from anonymous donors and the encouragement she's received from a not-so-anonymous basketball team.
Which is why Decker wants to spread the word about the Thunder-sponsored Holiday Blood Drive on Friday at the Cox Convention Center.
“I've been saying all day, it's kind of my two loves,” Decker said.
Decker, a recent graduate of Putnam City North High School, is battling Hodgkin lymphoma. She has undergone chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, and could be facing radiation therapy.
Through the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Decker was a Thunder coach for the day and formed a bond with coach Scott Brooks. Brooks even skipped a Thunder scrimmage in October to fly to Phoenix with Decker and her family for a Make-a-Wish event.
“The Thunder has always been there to encourage me,” Decker said. “Now it's my turn to take a step back and team up with them, help the community.”
The Oklahoma Blood Institute's blood drive will be held from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Donors can park free in the garage beneath the Cox Center and will receive collector's edition “I Bleed Blue” T-shirts. Also, a donor will be selected to receive two lower-level tickets to an upcoming Thunder game.
“The Oklahoma City Thunder provides great motivation for good-hearted Oklahomans to give Friday, when so many are traveling or involved in holiday activities, and blood donation typically declines,” said Oklahoma Blood Institute president John Armitage. “We're hoping Oklahomans will rise together so we can all ring in the New Year without concerns about a sufficient blood supply for those who need it.”
Decker knows about needing blood.
“For me, it's been vital,” Decker said Thursday, fighting through a cold. “I had a bone marrow transplant midway through October. I had to have blood transfusions, seemed like every night. It was extremely necessary, because the chemo depletes all my blood counts. Vital is all that you could say about them.”
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