Five years ago, Troy Ross was in a hospital bed in Seattle battling for his life. Today, the Great Falls 7-year-old is back to being a kid again – scoring touchdowns, hitting home runs, catching fish and camping with his family.
“There are tears of joy in our household right now,” Troy’s dad Wes said. “We are fully in remission, which we never thought we would see in our wildest dreams.”
Diagnosed with a rare immune disease, Troy was airlifted to the Seattle Children’s Hospital in 2017. Over the course of the next month, three-quarters of his blood supply had to be replaced – blood available because of the generosity of blood donors.
To say thanks and pay it forward for other families going through similar struggles, Troy’s family is helping organize Red Cross blood drives across Montana later this month. This marks the fifth consecutive year the Ross family has helped coordinate drives, which have grown from seven last year to 10 this summer. Wes, who has coached football at Cascade, Great Falls High and Great Falls Central Catholic, said their family has seen an outpouring of support from all corners of the state, especially from the Montana football community.
“I’m just honored and blessed that a little boy can inspire so much good for this world,” Wes said. “The support we receive is so humbling and just truly a testimony of what good things can happen when good people focus on the positive and helping the next person in need.”
This year, 10 TroyStrong drives will be held across Montana:
· June 21 – Bozeman, noon-6 p.m., Red Cross Blood Donation Center, 300 North Willson Ave., sponsor code TROYSTRONG
· June 22 – Billings, 12:30-6 p.m., Rocky Mountain College Bair Family Student Center, 1511 Poly Drive, sponsor code TROYSTRONG
· June 22 – Havre, noon–5 p.m., St. Jude Parish Center, 440 7th Ave., sponsor code TROYSTRONG
· June 22 – Helena, noon-5 p.m., Red Cross Blood Donation Center, 3150 N. Montana, sponsor code TROY
· June 22 – Kalispell, 11:30-6 p.m., Red Cross Blood Donation Center, 126 N. Meridian, sponsor code TROYSTRONG
· June 23 -- Great Falls, noon-6 p.m., Red Cross Blood Donation Center, 1300 28th St. S., sponsor code TROYSTRONG
· June 23 – Missoula, noon-6:30 p.m., Red Cross Blood Donation Center, 2401 N. Reserve St., Suite 6, sponsor code TROYSTRONG
· June 24 – Butte, 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Butte Central Foundation, 550 E. Mercury St., sponsor code TROY
· June 29 – Dillon, 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m., University of Montana-Western Swysgood Technology Center, 710 S. Atlantic St., sponsor code TROYSTRONG
· June 30 – Bozeman, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Montana State University SUB Building, 221 Strand Union, sponsor code TROYSTRONG
Schedule an appointment to donate at one of these drives by visiting RedCrossBlood.org and entering the sponsor code listed above or call 800-RED-CROSS (800-733-2767). A blood donation takes less than an hour and can save up to three lives.
Troy, who will celebrate his eighth birthday this month, just finished first grade and is looking forward to a summer full of football camps and fun with his family. He hasn’t needed treatment since December, and in late February had his port removed – a red-letter day for the Ross family. Wes said they would have never made it to this point without lifesaving blood being available when Troy desperately needed it.
“I wish I could go back in time and personally meet those people who saved my son’s life,” Wes said. “I’m forever in debt.”