MCLENNAN COUNTY, TX — Thursday afternoon, January 2nd,, people in, and around Axtell will roll up their sleeves to donate blood in the name of one of their own.
After the cancer death of a well-liked teenager in the town, people there rallied together to make sure he wasn't forgotten, and their efforts give other cancer patients a shot at survival
January 2nd may be the most important day of the year for Axtell, as the town comes together to carry on a fight begun by one of it's youngest residents.
Cancer claimed the life of 17-year-old Cameron Garland in 2013.
Every year since, on January 2nd, the day Cameron left us, this town rolls up it's sleeve and donates a little bit of itself so that others might have a fighting chance.
Tammy Garland calls this annual blood drive, Cameron's legacy.
"While he was in treatment, he needed blood products all the time so they're real, real important," explained Garland
Every year, the "Fighting with Cam" blood drive, aims to collect 55 units of blood.
"55 Was Cameron's football number. It was his brother's football number and his father's football number,” his mother said.
some years they meet the goal, others they exceed it. Either way, it all goes to honor the memory of a young man taken, these folks say, too soon.
Cameron had a tough fight against leukemia. He missed most of this senior year. But his family did their best, to bring his senior year to him, in the hospital, He couldn't go to football games, but he could watch them on an iPad.
His mother says, those little touches, kept Cameron grounded to Axtell, as he sat, miles away in a Fort Worth hospital.
"It was everything. Because it was the way we kept him connected to home," she said.
Since his death, this blood drive keeps Cameron connected still, creating the kind of legacy most men can only dream about.
"What do I think he would say about this project, this tradition? He's proud. He's way proud," she said.
Because his family can't forget, Cameron, and this life-saving blood drive helps insure the rest of us won't either.
"We won't let what killed him, be what killed us," she vowed.
A labor of love, carried on, by loved ones of a young man, gone too soon.
"It's a family affair and it's always gonna stay that way," she insisted.
Helping insure a better chance for other people with leukemia for generations to come.
The Blood drive gets underway Thursday, January 2nd from 3 P.M. to 8 P.M. at the Axtell Community Center next to the football stadium field house.