NEW ORLEANS – When the news went out that Sally-Ann and Robin Roberts wanted to raise awareness about bone marrow and organ donation, their calls were answered by colleagues, business owners, chefs and City Council members, from people across the metro area all wanting to sign up.
“Anybody who gives to the community like she does, I'm ready to give it back and Sally-Ann is a wonderful person and I want to be here to help her out,” said Chef Duke LoCicero of Café Giovanni.
He joined his colleague Greg Reggio, of the Tastebuds and Zea and Semolina restaurants, along with Rock ‘n Bowl owner John Blancher and Linda Green, best known as the Ya-Ka-Mein lady, who volunteered to come and answer phones during the Eyewitness Morning News phone drive.
“Sally-Ann's just such a part of New Orleans, she does so many great things, and it's just a very touching story,” Blancher said.
City Council member Cynthia Hedge-Morrell knows what the Roberts family is going through. Her sister-in-law needed a similar bone marrow transfer, and it was a family member who provided her perfect match.
"So I think being a part of this is getting the word out that, you know, it’s not painful. The few minutes it’s going to take out of your life can actually give life to someone else,” Morrell said.
Volunteers at the WWL studios on Thursday said the more people learn about donating, the easier it becomes to do so.
"As with everything else, as technology gets better and it’s easier to do it, I think it’s our civic duty to do things like that,” said Reggio.
The familiar faces that came down today say they did so for a couple of reasons: to truly raise awareness for a big need and to do anything they could for Robin and Sally-Ann.
"Who doesn't know Sally-Ann, number one, but number two: she's an institution, like WWL's an institution, and you know we're family,” said Blaine “Mr. Mardi Gras” Kern.
Today these volunteers, WWL-TV staffers and organizers from the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency and Be the Match bone marrow donor program were there, and so were the calls – almost non-stop, adding hundreds of new names to list that might never be needed or may save a life tomorrow.
“Our prayers are with her and Robin, but more importantly I thank them for using an unfortunate situation as a gift to us all,” said City Council president Jackie Clarkson, who helped answer phones as well.
For more information about becoming a bone marrow donor, click here.
For organ donor information, click here.