On Sunday, January 11th at 2 p.m. more than 400 kids will be lining up near Bienville Square in downtown Mobile for the fourth annual Five Points of Life Kids Marathon, an event that promotes fitness, while also drawing attention to five ways people can help save lives through donation.

On Saturday at 10 a.m., just across the bay in Orange Beach, the family of Hunter Lanford, a 21-year-old who has been battling leukemia, will be hosting a blood drive and a marrow donor drive, having lived for the past year with the reality of those lifesaving donations.

“I’ve been a blood donor since I was in high school, but now it’s personal, I know how important it is,” said Hunter’s father, Kevin Lanford, a firefighter paramedic in Orange Beach for the past 22 years.

Hunter1It was in January of 2014, one day after starting emergency medical technician training, that Hunter ended up in the emergency room. Doctors soon discovered he had leukemia, and he received transfusions of red blood cells as part of his treatment.

“Things are going well, the medicine he’s on is keeping the leukemia in check, but it’s not curing it. That’s why we’re looking for a match for a bone marrow donor,” Lanford said.

He explained that all three of Hunter’s brothers have been tested and one is a partial match, but doctors are hoping to find a complete match. At the blood drive, people between the ages of 18 to 44 can sign up as potential donors. The process requires filling out paperwork and a swab of the mouth for testing.

“The blood drive can have an immediate impact for people here in Mobile and Baldwin counties, and if the marrow volunteers don’t make a difference for Hunter, they might make a difference for someone else,” Lanford said.

The drive will be held at the Warf, 4830 Main St., Orange Beach, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Blood donors must be at least 17, or 16 with parental permission, weigh a minimum of 110 pounds and be in good health. A photo ID is also required.

Sunday’s Kids Marathon is more of a celebration. Participants walk or run 25 miles, a little bit at a time prior to Sunday, logging their distance as they go. They then get to run or walk a 1.2 mile route through the historic downtown, starting at the northwest corner of Bienville Square at the intersection of St. Francis and Conception Streets. All participants receive a T-shirt and earn a medal for completing the marathon distance.

The Five Points of Life Foundation was started by LifeSouth Community Blood Centers as a way to raise awareness of the five ways to share life with others through the donation of blood, apheresis, marrow, cord blood and organ and tissue. For more information on the Five Points of Life Kids Marathon or Saturday’s blood and marrow drive, call LifeSouth in Mobile at 251-706-1470.