MENTOR, Ohio — Seven years ago, a little girl from Mentor was diagnosed with Leukemia.
Ten-year-old Erin Potter’s journey has since been up and down.
President Obama spoke about her story during an address to the nation over a year ago. She even got to meet one of her idols, Justin Bieber.
But Saturday, the journey took another turn with the chance to meet a complete stranger who gave her new life.
“It’s kind of amazing to see what we’ve gone through. Where we’ve come and where we are today,” said Jeni Potter, Erin’s mom.
Seven years ago, Erin was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. It was a day that changed the Potter family forever.
“Devastating — a three-year-old, knew about cancer, didn’t know about Leukemia, didn’t even know what blood cancer was, so that kind of started our journey,” said Kevin Potter, Erin’s dad.
On June 8, 2011, Erin’s road to recovery began with a bone marrow transplant from her own sister, Mary, who was eight weeks old at the time.
“I think what Mary really was, was a bridge that kind of carried us to where we really needed to go,” said Jeni.
Her most recent transplant came on July 18, 2012, from Frank Reynolds, a 28-year-old emergency medical technician from Long Island, New York.
“I’d like to think if anybody else was in my position, they would have done the same thing so I really don’t feel special about it,” said Reynolds.
On Saturday morning, Erin and her family met Frank for the very first time at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Then they gathered with 50 of her closest family members and friends at Little Mountain Brewery.
“Our oldest daughter said the greatest thing today, when we were minutes from him landing, and she said, ‘does anybody else feel like Frank is not a real person still?’” Jeni said.
“It’s almost like I already knew them. We had been e-mailing, texting, FaceTiming and Skyping. It feels really good to be a part of this,” said Reynolds.
On March 18, the Potter family will celebrate another milestone for Erin who will be cancer free for 20 months, and Frank will be in town to celebrate.
“I look at Erin. I look at Frank. I look at Erin. I look at Frank, and I know there is a really good chance Erin wouldn’t be here today without what he did,” said Kevin.
It’s been quite a ride for the Potter family, which got a little bigger on Saturday night.
“Frank is one of the Potters tonight in our minds and hearts forever,” Kevin said.
Frank went to give blood at his local Red Cross, but had recently gotten a tattoo meaning he couldn’t give blood.
It was at that point he decided to register with the Bone Marrow Registry and within a year, he was saving Erin’s life.
For more on Erin’s story, click here.