Sterling Heights father of five gets his miracle, but bone marrow drive continues

A father of five is fighting for his life and now he's hoping his battle with cancer will benefit others after a Sterling Heights elementary school put out the call searching for bone marrow matches.

Connie Sonntag's son, Dennis, is a 28-year-old father of five. Now, he's in the fight of his life against a rare diagnosis.

"He has lymphoma and leukemia-like cells. He was diagnosed, which is very rare, with two kinds of cancer, not one," Connie said.

But when Connie's co-workers, at Graebner Elementary, learned about her son's cancer battle, they put on their boxing gloves and joined the fight, including Anthony Tocco, a teacher at Graebner Elementary. 

"It's impossible to find a match if people don't get tested so we have to have people out here," Tocco said. "That's why we have reached out to every school in the Utica district, it's why we reached out to the media. We want the community to be aware there's a huge need for donors for bone marrow and it's a commitment to donate "

On Tuesday, school staff joined Michigan Blood for the marrow drive but there's no sight of Dennis and that's good news for his family. Right before Christmas, his family says they received a miracle; His match was found. Connie couldn't contain her enthusiasm.

"I was screaming so loud, my daughter-in-law said everyone in the house could hear me"

But the need still exists and so the drive continues in hopes that more people like Dennis can be helped. Katie McClain with Michigan says the odds are stacked against those in need.

"There are still searching patients out there. Unfortunately there's 11 million plus donors on the registry and there's still patients that cannot find a match because we're trying to match very specific DNA tissue types. They are unique to everyone, so trying to find that one person who's your exact match can be difficult."

Connie says she is grateful for all that her school family has done and hopes others will sign up and learn if they are a match.

"You can't save a life without someone being on the registry. You never know."
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