It’s been a rough 36 years for Kristy DeRome. But it seems as if things are just getting started.
Kristy has beaten the odds. Today, she is 36-year-old Kristy DeRome Gomberg and last year she organized a Care Walk to benefit Cooley’s Anemia Foundation, an organization with a mission to advance the treatment and cure for thalassemia, a blood disease considered fatal but somehow Kristy has conquered.
The second annual Care Walk is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Sunday, April 27, at the Hughestown Hose Company and Banquet Hall, Center Street, Hughestown. Refreshments and snacks will be available.
Gift basket raffles are part of the event.
To sponsor a team or donate gift certificates, food or raffle baskets, call Gombert at 570-510-2489.
All money raised will go directly to Cooley’s Anemia Foundation.
Entertainment will be provided by Optimum.
Last year’s inaugural event raised $2,400 and featured more than 100 walkers. Gombert’s goal a year ago was to raise $1,000. Needless to say, she was pretty happy with the outcome.
“It’s a struggle (for me) every day,” Gomberg said. “It could always be worse. Last year was the first time we had the event and I was so enlightened by it. It’s time to start giving back.”
In 2013, the event was just thrown together in the last couple weeks, Gomberg said. This year has been much different.
“It was organized within two weeks,” she said. “It was just like a quick, ‘Lets do this.’ This year is a lot more intense. I have other people involved. We’re hoping this is a lot bigger.”
Gomberg was just three months old when she was diagnosed with thalassemia, a rare blood disorder. The news was devastating to her parents, Fury and Mary DeRome, of Hughestown. The doctors told them not to expect their baby to live past her teens.
Gomberg has been fighting the effects of thalassemia for 36 years. She goes to The Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia for regular blood transfusions. The blood transfusions, as they do for all patients, build up an iron overload in her vital organs and she has to be hooked up to an infusion pump 12 hours a night to remove the iron.
She takes numerous medications and has severe osteoporosis issues. She has no spleen and can’t fight infections. Though the blood transfusions have caused Lyme disease and babeseosis (a malaria-like disease), she needs them to survive. As it is with all thalassemia patients, the transfusions are a chance she has to take.
No wonder she calls her team Kristy’s Thalassemia Warriors. Despite it all, Gomberg is a fighter and an optimist. “It can always be worse,” she said.
“My goal for my team is $4,000,” she said. “So I’m hoping to get that. I don’t want to be disappointed if we don’t. It’s such a great feeling. It’s just a really good feeling.”