The only Christmas gift a local boy wants: A blood drive in honor of his friend gone too soon

SALUDA, S.C. (WJBF)– One 14-year-old’s Christmas wish was fulfilled in Saluda Sunday. L.J. Tolen wanted one thing this year: A blood drive in honor of his best friend who passed away from bone cancer. .

Reggie Parkman was 10 years old when doctors told him he had bone cancer.. After two years of fighting, he passed away at age 13.

“He’s a special kid, but I know he’s an even more special kid to God. I know that he is ok, but there’s just nothing like having your child with you,” Lashone Smith, Reggie’s mom told me.

October 11, 2012: The day Reggie found out his childhood would never be the same. Doctors detected a tumor in his body, and then the next day, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma: bone cancer.

“My reaction was always to his reaction. If he was happy, I was happy. If he was sad, I was sad,” Reggie’s mom explained. “The cancer just… they couldn’t control it. It was like… it grew so fast. It was like putting gas to a wildfire.”

Reggie underwent several surgeries in those two years of fighting cancer. And after, he received blood transfusions– something his mom said helped him live longer. That’s why LJ Tolen hosted this blood drive.

“My best friend… He acted like my brother,” L.J. said.

“That was his friend. He loved his friend,” Monisha Gunter, LJ’s sister explained. “He always wanted to be with his friend. He was very emotional about him, especially with him not being here now. That’s his buddy. He loves that boy.”

Reggie’s mom told me he was a strong kid– so strong that he accepted the fact he needed to have his right leg cut off in order to live longer.

“To know that people are coming out to give blood, hopefully it does save somebody’s life,” Smith hopes. “Just to think, like you said, he also received blood from somebody, and whoever’s blood it was, I thank the Lord for it.”

Shepeard Community Blood Center took the blood donations at the event. If you are interested in donating blood, click here. 

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