An estimated 200 potential bone marrow donors turned out Sunday in in support of local fire marshal Jim Finley and the search for a match and the transplant treatment that will keep his Leukemia at bay.
The Chagrin Valley Fire Department, of which Mr. Finley is a longtime member, sponsored the drive with the assistance of the Be The Match program which is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP).
He said he was “overwhelmed and humbled” by the effort on his behalf. It is ongoing and those between the ages of 18 and 40 may still participate by visiting bethematch.org. Monetary donations are also accepted through the website.
Mr. Finley, a wounded and decorated Iraq War veteran, said he has been the focus of media in the past “but now its my life and I’m honored so many would come out to try and help.”
The enormity of it was brought home to him on Sunday as he and his wife Beth were watching the Rose Bowl Parade.
“Up popped my story on the news . . . It is so strange to be in this situation but this community has been beyond supportive and I know I can never pay it back.”
Mr. Finley remains at home on East Summit Street waiting for the next step of treatment. He described his energy level as “pretty good” although the stress of waiting for that next step has been unnerving.
His boss Fire Chief Frank Zugan said Monday “I don’t want to speak for Jim but I am absolutely overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from this wonderful community we call home.”
He added “by all accounts the drive was a great success” and noted that in Mr. Finley’s behalf, many of his potential donors applied through the Be the Match website and those numbers are also “inching up.”
Chief Zugan said he gave out three testing kits himself on Monday to people who could not make the Sunday drive at the firehouse.
“I am also extremely grateful for all the volunteers, which included 21 firefighters and 6 village residents, who helped out with our “Be the Match event” . . . this Village is unbelievable and with the support Jim has and continues to receive, I have no doubt that we will find a match for our Fire Marshal.”
The likelihood of finding a match is 29 to 79 percent depending on several factors including genetics and ethnicity, according to the NBDP. Mr. Finley’s two siblings are being tested.