By Colin Foster
TROY — Sunday’s Fitness Fundraiser at the Miami County YMCA Robinson Branch holds a special meaning for the Schwartz family.
The funds raised at the event will support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society — something that is close to the hearts of Scott, Alexis, Brayden and Devin Schwartz, who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia when he was just 3 years old.
“It does (have a special meaning),” said Alexis, Devin’s mother. “I was thinking about it this morning … no matter if it was diabetes or another disease — this is our thing because it has affected our family. If he had diabetes, we would probably be doing something for the Junior Diabetes Research Fund. This means so much to us because it hits home.”
Devin was recently named Boy of the Year as part of the Man and Woman of the Year campaign ran by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Boy and Girl of the Year recipients are local blood cancer survivors who help serve as motivation and inspiration to Man and Woman of the Year candidates in their competition to raise funds.
On Dec. 27, 2010, Devin, who is now a kindergartner at Concord Elementary, woke up from a nap with a fever. He was treated with Tylenol and Motrin for the next few days, but the fever never subsided. Devin was lethargic, his appetite was non-existent and he had a headache. After a series of tests, he was sent to Dayton Children’s Medical Center, where he and his family met with a hematologist who gave Devin’s family the diagnosis: Leukemia.
Devin was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) on Dec. 31, 2010. He received 10 months of intense chemotherapy — some of which required four separate week-long inpatient stays. In 2012, Devin suffered a serious complication when he had high liver enzymes and extreme fluid retention caused by one of his chemotherapy drugs. He stayed in the hospital for two weeks — including some time in the PICU — with numerous blood and platelet transfusions, IV antibiotics and a chest tube to drain the fluid that surrounded his lungs. But Devin recovered from the experience and has no lasting side effects.
Currently, Devin is in remission and has been since January 2011. He is in the maintenance phase of his treatment, taking oral chemotherapy daily, along with intermittent antibiotics and steroids. Devin continues to visit the hospital monthly for chemo infusions, including intrathecal chemo. He is doing very well and is estimated to complete treatment in May of this year.
“It’s been difficult,” said Alexis, who will be running the Strictly Strength class from 6:15-7 p.m. at Sunday’s fundraiser. “He’s been in and out of the hospital a number of times, he’s had a couple pretty severe complications with the chemotherapy that are not completely unusual, but they don’t happen all the time. He’s been in the ICU, couple week stays at the hospital. Now, he’s pretty much on chemo every single day still, but it’s in the maintenance phase of things. He’ll be done in May.
“It’s been challenging, but he’s been great through all of it.”
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Man and Woman of the Year campaign is a fundraising competition in communities across the United States in which participants vie for the title of Man or Woman of the Year. They raise funds for blood cancer research in honor of local children who are blood cancer survivors. The titles are awarded to the men and women in each community who raise the most funds during the ten-week campaign; the top local fundraisers in the country also win the national titles.
Jill Broering, a good friend of the Schwartz family, is in the process of trying to raise money to become Woman of the Year. To find out how to donate, visit http://www.mwoy.org/pages/soh/dayton14/jbroering.
The Fitness Fundraiser will last from 1-7 p.m. Sunday at the Miami County YMCA Robinson Branch, 3060 S. County Road 25-A. The fundraiser will offer a variety of classes — including zumba, yoga, turbo kick, Insanity, strength/interval training and spinning — and is open to YMCA members and non-members.
Colin Foster may be reached at 937-440-5208 or followed on Twitter @colinfosterbg or @Troydailynews