It was the summer of 2014 and Reagan McDonald was packing for her big move to Moscow. She had just graduated from the University of Oklahoma and had accepted a position with CRU to work with college students in Russia. But at Reagan's last medical check up before she left the country, her doctor had some sobering news. Her bloodwork showed signs of leukemia.
For the next year and half Reagan was in and out of the hospital. Heavy chemotherapy treatments kept her from working and she lived with her parents between hospital stays. During one of those first long stretches in the hospital, two of Reagan's high school friends came to visit. The three girls had danced together as teenagers and her friends wanted to organize an event to help raise funds and awareness for leukemia treatments. The resources for the event came together quickly with help from Reagan's family and word began to spread. Dance for Reagan took place in September 2014 and was hosted at the Will Rodgers Colosseum in Fort Worth. Performed by the Joslin Contemporary Dance Company, Dance for Reagan was a great success and raised over $50,000 for Leukemia Texas, a nonprofit which provides life-saving programs across the state for people affected by leukemia.
A donation of $50,000 goes a long way when given to the team at Leukemia Texas. The Dallas-based organization awards financial assistance to leukemia patients with no strings attached. "Our average gift to a patient is $1,250 and they can spend that money however they need to spend it because leukemia isn't something you budget for," said Mandy O'Neill, CEO of Leukemia Texas. "We only require a two page application and we have funded over half a million dollars in patient aid last year alone." Leukemia Texas also provides funding for local leukemia research so the medical community can develop new and improved treatment methods and ultimately find a cure for leukemia.
Three years later Reagan is now cancer free and works full time for CRU at Baylor University. She spends her days encouraging students in their Christian walk and empowering them to lead Bible studies and share their faith. It was that same faith that strengthened Reagan during her battle with cancer. "Honestly, the only thing that I can attribute to helping me on this journey is the Lord and his faithfulness. He healed me but also brought me closer to him in my suffering. And he also brought people alongside me as I learned to trust the Lord more," Reagan shared. "God didn’t make this happen, but he allowed it to be used for more good. I meet people all the time with leukemia and other cancers and I am able to encourage them with my story."
Reagan, Mandy and the McDonald Family are working on a big fundraising event scheduled for November 2018 - a VIP Vegas Golf Experience, so stay tuned. If you would like to get involved with future Leukemia Texas events or learn how to host your own fundraiser, you can visit the Leukemia Texas website.
If you know someone who is Doing Good in Dallas, we'd love to hear about it! Share their story with us.
Story by Mary Martin.