GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Robin Roberts' journey has raised so much awareness for people in need of bone marrow transplants. But more than that, it has provided hope for millions of other people in this country battling their own illnesses. Take two Gulfport High teens, for instance, who have been moved by Robin's passion and her persistence to make a difference in others' lives.
Kaleb Crump is a Sophomore at Gulfport High, battling a rare brain tumor.
"It's very hard. It's life-changing actually," explains Crump.
The 15 year old loves to play violin. He says it's a way to escape the harsh reality of living with cancer.
"I kind of try to hang out with my friends, and play my X-Box and just hang out and go to the movies," he says.
Thanks to his principal, Kaleb is able to attend school three days a week right now, while undergoing chemotherapy treatments in New Orleans. His friends have rallied around him, creating "Team Kaleb," but his mother also credits someone else for helping him stay strong - South Mississippi's own Robin Roberts.
"Before Robin became sick, I always watched her on GMA," says Trinette Crump. "And since she's been going through her journey, I make sure I stay updated daily. And it has been a good inspiration. It makes us think about life and how we can keep going."
Kaleb agrees, saying of Robin's success "It shows me that even if I get knocked down, I can just get back up."
"It's just kind of inspiring to know that she's going to be alright. It gives you hope."
Those words come from Nick Myers, another Gulfport High school student battling a rare cancer, Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.
"I've had, myself over 70 blood transfusions, and like about 30 to 35 platelet transfusions," explains Nick.
In the past year, he has hosted several blood drives, which have been essential for his journey to better health. And while Nick doesn't need bone marrow, knowing people like Robin Roberts and several of his friends that did need it, led him to also host bone marrow drives along the way.
"It's just as easy as giving blood," says Nick. "People give blood all the time, why not? Because there's actually a whole lot more bone marrow transplants than what you see or hear."
Nick only has one month of chemo treatments before moving into what he calls a "maintenance" phase. He says the support he's received from his peers, has been overwhelming. His message to them:
"I'll be back soon. Thank you guys so much. It's because of you guys that I am where I am today."
In the meantime, a message from both teens on the day America welcomes Robin Roberts back to the anchor desk . . .
"Welcome back Robin!"
Kaleb, too wanted to thank all of his friends who have supported him the past nine months. But he says, keep the support coming; it's going to be a long journey. In fact, he's hosting another blood drive in April. A date has yet to be confirmed, but WLOX will keep you posted.
Nick Myers is also helping with another blood and bone marrow drive coming up March 23rd at the Gulfport Sportsplex.