Updated: May 18, 2020 10:22 AM
Created: May 16, 2020 05:44 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — If you were in northeast Rochester around noon Saturday afternoon, you may have wondered why a parade of more than a hundred cars was snaking through a quiet tree-lined neighborhood. It was because that neighborhood is home to an RCSD assistant principal who is fighting for her life. Hundreds of friends, family, and co-workers came out to show their support.
“Love you! We love you, sweetie,” a woman yelled from the passenger seat of a car decorated with pictures of Shawn Walker. If Walker ever doubted that she's loved, she doesn't now. For almost 45 minutes, the caravan of cars kept coming.
Walker has served the children of RCSD for 34 years. Her last position before she had to take medical leave was as the assistant principal at the Children's School of Rochester, or as staff affectionately call it: CSR.
"At CSR we're a family,” said Mary Rodey, a music teacher at the Children’s School of Rochester. “And we're always going to be there for her whether she can be with us or not. And so it wasn't even a question. We're out here to show her that we love her.”
“I love her so much,” said Jessica Banks, a teacher a CSR. “She was and is an awesome leader."
"No matter what she was going through, she still had the energy to inspire other people,” said Tracie Young, a paraprofessional at CSR. “Her selflessness. Just an amazing person all around."
Walker has a rare form of leukemia that has ravaged her bone marrow and it can no longer produce the cells needed to support life.
Without a bone marrow or stem cell transplant from a living donor, Walker will die.
"We scanned the registry four times and did not find a match, said Walker shaking her head. “About two weeks ago we tested my siblings and my children."
Matching for a bone marrow or stem cell transplant is far more complicated than having a matching blood type. The DNA markers on a donor's cells must match Walker’s. Days ago she learned her siblings have antibodies making it impossible for them to donate.
"So I was a little discouraged, and then my children's tests came back,” said Walker. "My daughter didn't match because she had antibodies, but my son is a match.”
Her son, Rob, the young man who is so close to his mother he moved back home to care for her, the young man to whom she gave life... will now save hers.
"My son is a match, so my son will save my life,” said Walker tearfully.
And the love of a city will support them both. Walker’s transplant is scheduled for June 4th. After that, she'll spend at least a month in a hospital isolation room because she'll be virtually without a functioning immune system. Her friends have established a GoFundMe to help with her extraordinary medical bills.
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