DALLAS — Zach Guillot is home from the hospital, and he has more friends than he ever dreamed.
Hundreds of them crowded Parish Episcopal School Sunday to swab their cheeks and offer support. The seven-year-old needs a bone marrow donor for his latest fight against leukemia.
Julie Guillot's birthday wish came true. She watched old friends and strangers join the registry for potential bone marrow donors. Her youngest son Jake donated marrow in June 2010, and Zach went into remission.
But at the end of November 2011, the family started to notice Zach was not 100 percent.
"He was having pain in his legs, he wasn't feeling well, and he was fatigued," Julie Guillot said. "That's when we discovered that his leukemia had returned, unfortunately."
This is Zach's second fight with cancer. He's become all too familiar with hospital beds and chemotherapy, but his spirits remain high.
His mom says he's always challenging the nursing staff to light saber fights at the hospital. He's a typical seven-year-old (minus the hair).
For this latest bout, Zach will undergo another few rounds of chemotherapy. Doctors say once he is in remission, a marrow donor outside the family will be his best chance for a cure.
That's why so many people turned out on Sunday.
"The more people the better. Helping everyone is a blast," said friend Carter Weinstein.
His mom was one of the adults who got their cheeks swabbed and put their names on a registry of potential donors.
"Hopefully we will be a match for this family," said Alison Weinstein. "But if not, we are ready to help someone else who needs it."
Kids too young to donate marrow still made an impact. They used colors and markers to write notes of inspiration, and gave hope to children in the same situation as their friend.
They decorated a few hundred hats, ornaments and handwritten notes for patients at Children's Medical Center Dallas. The group Lemons to Aid provided the supplies. Melissa Plaskoff leads the group.
"It's important for kids to know while they are sitting here working, in their mind they are thinking they are doing something for Zach or someone else," she said.
Zach's family said donating marrow is easy — it's more like an intense blood donation than an actual surgery.
Potential donors who could not make it to Sunday's event can get more information at getswabbed.org.