(From left) Physical therapy assistant Candace Sperry, Zach Stumpf, Jenie Stumpf and physical therapist Jenny Gargac; (front row) Clayton Stumpf, Zach’s younger brother.
ALTON — Zach Stumpf is a normal 13-year-old teenager who enjoys hanging out with friends and being with his family.
Unfortunately, Zach doesn’t always feel well enough to participate the way he would like. At age 12, Zach fell ill with what his parents thought was just a virus. A trip to the doctor turned into a trip to St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Zach and his parents learned that he had Pre B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a form of leukemia caused by an overproduction of cancerous, immature white blood cells. This overproduction inhibits the production of normal cells.
Zach has endured chemotherapy, radiation, blood transfusions, platelet transfusions and numerous stays in the hospital. Physical therapy is also part of his treatment. Zach began therapy at Alton Physical Therapy almost a year ago. When he began therapy, walking was a difficult task. In less than a year, he has made great improvement. Zach walks independently, is riding his bike again, and is shooting hoops.
The time spent at Alton Physical Therapy not only helped to rehabilitate Zach — he gained a new group of friends. The friendships among Zach, his mom, Jenie; and the staff at Alton Physical Therapy sparked the idea of hosting a blood drive in honor of Zach.
“Zach has had more blood transfusions than I can count and each transfusion consists of two units,” Zach’s mom, Jenie Stumpf, said.
This information kicked the blood drive plan into gear.
“Many of our patients have been through quite a lot even before they make it through our doors. Every patient has a story and the reality is that you or I could be that patient at any time. If we can offer a kind act or encouraging words to help our patients along, it is worth it in the end. My mother was a recipient of over 12 units of blood this past year. It’s humbling to know that others care for us. APT has that caring family atmosphere, and we hope our patients can feel this when they come to our clinic,” said Zach’s physical therapist, Jenny Gargac.
Awareness of the increased need for blood donations during the winter months inspired this event. Alton Physical Therapy will host a blood drive from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 17, at 1719 Clawson St. in Alton in honor of Zach. Alton Physical Therapy is hoping to make a great success of the blood drive.