LONE TREE, Colo. – The Lone Tree community came together Monday to support a local teenager who is battling leukemia and is now in hospice care. Eagle Ridge Elementary School hosted a blood drive to honor a 15-year-old former student named Will Maniatis, and it was booked all day.
The Highlands Ranch High School student was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in December 2018. He had multiple rounds of chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant and more. But doctors say there is nothing else they can do and Will is now in Hospice care.
To show support, dozens of community members went to Eagle Ridge Monday to donate blood at the Children’s Hospital Colorado bloodmobile.
“Our families are good friends and I’m just heartbroken that this is the state, and the stage that Will is in, and we just want to do anything we can to support our friends,” said Natalie Shallow with tears in her eyes.
The Eagle Ridge principal Doug Humphreys says he and many staff members all donated blood in Will's honor.
“He’s made a big impact on our whole school community, so we wanted to honor him by holding a blood drive while he goes through his own personal battle,” Humphreys said.
Will’s mother, Claudia Maniatis, has shared their journey on social media and has raised awareness about the need for blood donation.
“I have not given blood in a long, long time, and I think following their journey made me realize how important it is,” said Erin Warta as she was donating blood.
Doctors from Children’s Hospital Colorado want to get the word out as well. Blood donation saves lives.
“Some of the patients that I see, they end up needing so many blood products, and there’s just not enough awareness,” said Dr. Kyle Annen, the medical director of the transfusion service at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
Awareness is something that Will has brought to Lone Tree. As he and his family prepare for what comes next, the community hopes they feel all the love and support.
“He’s been really strong and his family has been amazing, so we’ll just do what we can do and pray for him,” Joel Shallow said, fighting back tears.
The family is also helping to raise awareness about the need for research.