BOCA RATON, Fla. - Jessica Offir has come with her family to South County Regional Park in Boca Raton to walk. But she's also here to meet her match. She's already married so the match in this case is the woman Offir donated stem cells to. It's a woman who has a second chance at life thanks to Offir. It was seven years ago when Offir agreed to be a bone marrow donor.
"I really wasn't thinking that far ahead. You have the hope that wow this could be something amazing one day but you never expect it to happen," said Offir, a 27 year-old Broward County resident.
Offir was taking part in the first "Walk for Life", put on by the Boca Raton based Gift Of Life foundation. In 15 years, the organization has registered 175-thousand possible donors, and made 21-hundred transplant matches, including Offir's.
"I didn't even think twice, lets do it... lets get this thing moving."
Jessica and her recipient had exchanged letters, but today was their first face to face meeting.
When Jessica and Randi Igoe embrace on stage, there are tears in the crowd of hundreds. Igoe, a wife and mother of two had flown in from Long Island with her family. She was diagnosed with leukemia 18 months ago.
"It's beyond amazing. I thought why would a stranger do this for me? What did I ever do to deserve such a wonderful person in my life to do this for me," said Igoe.
For Randi and Jessica, who already share so much, the walk let them learn more about one another. For other walk participants, it was a chance to become a potential donor. Hundreds filled a tent on site to give a simple cheek swab for the registry.
"I think it's an important cause. People need our help. Like they say, save a life," said Michael Simon after he left the tent.
Being a bone marrow donor is still a serious decision, but this first walk was a big success.
"We've raised over $60,000 which will send over one thousand samples from donors to the laboratory to go into the registry," said Gift Of Life founder Jay Feinberg.
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