Kamran Rahman had just turned 13 when he found out he had leukemia. "I started chemotherapy the day I was supposed to start 8th grade," he said.
Thanks to a bone marrow transplant, with marrow donated by his older brother Khalil, today Kamran is about to turn 16 and, aside from a few bone problems, he's out of the woods. "I've been good," Kamran said.
It was Kamran's dire diagnosis three years ago, however, that inspired his uncle, Dr. Charles Keefe, to found the Leukemia Cup Power Boat Poker Run in Niantic.
Similar events are held as fundraisers for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society across the country but this one was sponsored locally by Harbor Hill Inn & Marina, Boats Incorporated, Port Niantic, and the City of New London.
"This is the only time we really work together," said Dave Labrie of Niantic's Harbor Hill Inn & Marina, noting that normally the event's sponsors are competitors.
Despite torrential rain, the turnout this year was terrific. "We sold more poker hands than we did last year," said Leukemia & Lymphoma Society volunteer Nancy Cueroni, who takes these fundraisers very personally as her mother had lymphoma and her brother is a leukemia survivor.
What really tipped it over the edge, however, was a donation by Bob Staehle from Kellogg Marine in Old Lyme. He was so inspired by Niantic resident Don MacKenzie's act of destined for the dinner plate at the Dock Restaurant in Waterford, that he donated $1,000 to the cause in Larry's name.
Although the final tally isn't in yet, the contribution on behalf of "Lucky Larry" put the fundraiser at least $1,000 over its goal of $20,000, said event organizer Deena Kaye of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
"It means so much to me, so I just really want to thank you all," said Keefe, adding that his nephew "Kammie" is really his hero.