Sharing America’s Marrow: Not The End of Our Journey

July 13, 2016

Catch Part 1 and Part 2 of the SAM series here.

As we stepped off the plane into the thick, sweet smelling Hawaiian air, we turned to each other in shock and each said, “we did it.”

We had made it to our 50th state in 2015! It was December 14th and we had been living on the road since January 20th, hosting bone marrow donor registration drives across the country with our nonprofit, Sharing America’s Marrow. But now our “tour” was over, and by the time we finished our 193rd donor registration event, we were exhausted.

IMG_7947We had decided back when we created Sharing America’s Marrow (SAM) that we were going to raise awareness about the need for more bone marrow donors in every state, and that we wanted Hawaii to be the last one we visited. It was the perfect way to end a hard year with over 24,000 miles driven and over 23,000 potential donors registered. We were thankful for a few days on the beach before we flew back to our hometown of Louisville, KY and had to figure out what was next for each of us.

Our small SAM team consisted of myself, my younger sister Sam (who we named our organization in honor of), and our mutual best friend, Taylor Shorten. As close as we all were before the trip, there is something about traveling for a year out of a small van that will bond you tighter together than you ever thought was possible. We were ready to have some space between us, but we also didn’t know how to really talk to anyone but each other. It felt like no one could understand what we went through except each other. Together, we felt the sting of rejection everyday when people said no to joining the bone marrow donor registry. Together we ate Chex mix and Twizzlers for dinner together on too many nights where the only food we could find was from a gas station. And we cried together when patients that we had worked to find matches for, passed away.

IMG_8015Starting our own nonprofit taught us a lot and shaped us into better leaders, and Taylor and Sam wanted to both take their experiences to start new careers. When we got home from Hawaii, Sam moved to Denver to do fundraising for the nonprofit First Descents. Sam, who has aplastic anemia, is sharing her story with other patients to inspire them to take back their life back from the diseases that try to take them. Taylor took a job as a house manager at a residential facility for children and teens. Alex decided to keep running Sharing America’s Marrow, hosting local events in Louisville and also helping people across the country host their own events as well. She is also putting together a documentary with footage from their year on the road to hopefully inspire people to join the registry.

Each member of the SAM team continues to be advocates for the cause, knowing that there are thousand of patients out there still waiting for their lifesaving donor to register.

Please visit to join the registry, and follow sharemarrow2015 on Instagram for info and updates on the SAM quest. Stay tuned for the SAM documentary being released in late 2016.




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