RICHMOND, Indiana – The sixth annual Cooper Newton Memorial Blood Drive came on St. Patrick’s Day, but the Newton family from Cambridge City knows little boys prefer pirates. So they celebrated their son’s memory with Jack Sparrow and Peter Pan instead of leprechauns and shamrocks.
The annual blood drive is a traditional birthday celebration for Cooper, who died from complications related to the congenital disorder Noonan syndrome when he was just seven months old. Cooper’s parents Beth and Clint challenged donors to join “our courageous Captain Cooper’s Pirate Birthday Crew!” and a total of 45 donors came aboard for the March 17 blood drive at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Richmond.
“I work with Beth, and came last year,” said donor Alaina Moore. Her nine and eight-year old daughters Tabatha and Jazmine watched their mom donate and enjoyed the pirate-theme treats in the Donor Café. Despite a busy Saturday schedule, the blood drive was a top priority. “I had to get it done,” Alaina said.
Cooper’s older brothers Gavin and Gunner dressed in “Pirates of the Caribbean” outfits and played with plastic swords. Three-year old sister Campbell wore a pirate dress. The party snacks included goldfish crackers, gummy worms and “pirate’s gold” peanut butter cups.
Cooper was born March 22, 2012 and was three months old when diagnosed with Noonan syndrome, a genetic disorder that prevents normal development in various parts of the body. Bleeding and clotting disorders are among the many complications. Cooper received blood transfusions during treatment for leukemia. He died from heart and lung failure on Oct. 12, 2012.
After Cooper’s death the Beth and Clint became active with the Noonan Syndrome Foundation to support patient families. “I would encourage anyone interested in learning more to visit the Foundation website www.TeamNoonan.org and the Facebook page,” said Beth. “You can ask questions and even vent when you’re having a bad day.
Little was known about Noonan Syndrome when Cooper was diagnosed. Beth says recognizing warning signs during pregnancy can lead to an earlier diagnosis and a better chance at fighting the disease.
“Any parent with children with special needs, they learn even more than the doctors often know. They can often provide additional support because they are living it every day.”