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Casino Night leads to unexpected gift

A door prize won by an Elon University administrator boosts the spirit of a sick boy recovering from a bone marrow transplant.

Gregory Wolford expressed delight at the Aflac gift basket he received from Woody Pelton, dean of international programs and director of the Isabella Cannon Centre.

A recent “Casino Night” fundraiser hosted by Elon University students in the Premier Sport & Event Society did more than just support a 9/11 charity in New York City – it would later offer a warm moment of delight for the North Carolina family of an 8-year-old boy battling a rare genetic blood disease.

Gregory Wolford was diagnosed with Fanconi Anemia in 2010 after his parents took note of slowing growth, pale skin and a severe nosebleed. Fanconi Anemia, commonly called FA, can lead to death if the patient doesn’t receive a bone marrow transplant.

Wolford received that transplant this fall after a battery of exams and when his older brother’s marrow came back as a perfect match for donation. Throughout the process, the Wolford family has been in touch with Maureen Allen, an instructor in the university’s Department of Computing Sciences who volunteers with the Alamance County Service League.

It was during Gregory Wolford’s recovery in Durham that Elon University’s Premier Sport & Event Society, which draws its membership primarily from students studying sport and event management, held its 3rd annual Casino Night at Olde Forest Racquet Club just south of campus to support the Tunnel to Towers Foundation in New York City.

As it happens, Allen happened to be at the event. She shared the Wolford family’s story that evening with Woody Pelton, dean of international programs and director of the Isabella Cannon Centre. When Pelton’s name was drawn for an “Aflac basket” door prize donated by Kelly Lebsack at the insurance company’s Greensboro district office, his first thought was to give the toboggan, stuffed animals and snacks to the family he had just learned of from Allen.

Gregory Wolford was delighted at the unexpected gift. He then proceeded to share his treats with other children in his unit. “We are so thankful for the wonderful people who have delivered meals, gifts & donations to helps us on our journey,” said Lisa Wolford, Gregory’s mom. “This has been a very hard year on us all but we've managed to make it through the difficult times."

Eric Townsend,
11/11/2011 11:15 AM