The local youth sports community will rally behind Ricky Martinez, 9, this weekend when they host a bone marrow donor drive for the Murrieta boy.
The first drive will take place from 4 to 9 p.m. on Friday at Los Alamos Sports Park in Murrieta and will be hosted by the Friday Night Lights flag football league.
Then Murrieta Valley Pony Baseball will host its own bone marrow drive from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25 at the Pony fields located at Fig Street and Jefferson.
Ricky, nicknamed Smiley for his broad, infectious grin, was recently diagnosed with aplastic anemia — a bone marrow disease that prevents the marrow from making enough red and white blood cells and platelets for the body.
With the depletion of those red and white blood cells comes the risk of infection or bleeding that in some cases can be life-threatening.
Though Ricky is currently receiving blood transfusions every Friday and is feeling strong, his dad Oscar said he knows that a bone marrow donor is what is needed for the long haul.
“We’re getting tired and a little scared,” Oscar said.
Anyone wishing to come out and be tested as a match needn’t be worried about a painful, invasive experience.
The process involves swabbing just four cotton swabs on the inside of the cheek after joining the registry and filling out a consent form.
Participants should be between the age of 18 and 60 and in fairly good health.
Regarding the outpouring of support so far from residents, Oscar said: “This is an amazing community. This has all been very, very humbling.”
To learn more about how to be tested as a bone marrow donor, visit BetheMatchFoundation.org.