PUNTA GORDA, FL. — When it comes to baseball, 8-year-old Jakobe ‘Kobe’ Washington doesn’t mess around.
“He’s definitely one you want on your team,” his dad, Jordan Washington, tells FOX 4.
Both his father and mom, Iberia Price, say it’s sometimes very hard to believe that Kobe is fighting for his life.
“Looking at Kobe, you’d never think that this kid needed a transplant."
Kobe’s parents say they got the news that the Sally Jones Elementary School student has acute lymphoblastic leukemia last August.
They tell FOX 4 they were hopeful when he first started treatment.
But right after Thanksgiving, they say “chemo was longer an option”.
The Punta Gorda boy desperately needs a blood stem cell or bone marrow transplant.
There are no matching donors in his family, on in the 22 million people currently enrolled in the Be the Match registry.
Further, Kobe’s ancestral background becomes more of a challenge when it comes to finding a donor.
For Black American patients like him, the non-profit says only 4% of the 22 million people registered are Black.
Further, only 23% of Black patients will find a fully-matched donor.
“It’s hard to think, it’s hard to sleep it’s hard to keep your emotions tight,” Washington tells FOX 4.
He says there are good days, and challenging days.
“There are really hard days. He can barely walk. He can barely talk. We could lose him to this disease by not having a donor.”
That’s where the Southwest Florida community can help.
Throughout the state, the search is on for a matching donor.
No matter what your background is, you could help to save Kobe’s life…or the life of someone else.
A live, drive event will take place at the Edison Mall in Fort Myers from 11A - 4PM.
It’s a simple way to get a mouth swab to see if you’re a match.
As they wait to find his donor, Jakobe’s parents tell FOX 4 he’s thinking positively.
He has a message for you, too.
“Please keep praying for me and my family. Thank you so much.”
Individuals ages 18-44 years old are encouraged to attend.
If you're not able to attend Saturday's event, you can still help.
Text KOBE to 61474 to get an at-home testing kit.
You can also join the registry here.
You can follow Jakobe's journey here.
This event is part of the mall's Dreams and Inspirations event. You can learn more about that celebration here.