DANVILLE, Ind. (WISH) -- The American Red Cross held a blood drive Saturday in Danville in honor of Cameron Kirk, a local fifth grader undergoing treatment for leukemia.
Kirk, 10, was diagnosed in April with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a form of cancer, and requires blood transfusions as part of his ongoing treatment.
Receiving even a single unit of blood can make an immediate difference, his mother Carrie explained.
"His color comes back and you can tell he's feeling better," she said. "He understands the importance of giving blood and the benefits he receives from it."
Kirk smiled as he glanced around the packed waiting area at Saturday's blood drive and told News 8 he was grateful for support from the community.
The 10-year-old's courage in the face of cancer has inspired hundreds, including Victor Oladipo. The Pacers star wrote Kirk a letter after learning about his diagnosis, telling him the entire team was #CamStrong.
A second hashtag, #CaptainKirk, also circulated online in support of the fifth grader. A Facebook page with updates on his progress called "Captain Kirk's Warriors" has more than 800 followers.
"It feels good to know so many people care," Kirk said.
Red Cross volunteers said they aim to collect 125 units of donated blood at Saturday's drive, a goal they seemed likely to surpass as dozens of prospective donors lined up and made appointments throughout the morning.
Meg Ahlering, a Red Cross development director, emphasized the importance of donating blood regularly, rather than waiting until a loved one or community figure needed help.
"Only 3 percent of the population donates," she told News 8. "About 38 percent of the population is able to. Most people don't because they've never been asked to."
Ahlering revealed she became a regular donor after her nephew needed blood following a car accident.
"That was a wake-up call for me to start donating," she said. "I was ashamed of myself and I realized how important that blood on the shelves was. It saved his life."
A patient requires blood every two seconds in the United States, according to Red Cross Statistics.
"Thank you, everyone," Kirk said when asked if he had any words for prospective donors. "It makes me feel much better."
BLOOD DRIVE INFORMATION
Walk-ins are welcome at Saturday's blood drive; appointments are not required.
9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Northview Christian Church
Danville, IN 46122