Darcy Force

Southwestern Adventist University's Department of Nursing and the Keene Chamber of Commerce will once again partner to host the annual Business Expo-Health Fair-Job Fair on April 2, 2017 on Southwestern’s campus.  The event brings in over 45 local businesses, health screenings, entertainment, and a food court with food demonstrations.  It is a free, family-friendly event with a little something for everyone.

One of the highlights of this year’s expo is a Delete Blood Cancer Drive hosted in honor of Gianmarco Vergel, a local young man who lost his life to complications from blood cancer.  Gianmarco was a vibrant, intelligent nine-year-old with a penchant for learning about science and nature.  He had big dreams to one day be a marine biologist or a paleontologist. 

Gianmarco, whose parents Alfredo and Sonia work at the University, was diagnosed in 2015 with AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia).  The campus and community rallied with the family and prayed for his recovery.  A month after his initial treatment, his leukemia seemed to be in remission but he started presenting other symptoms that were not leukemic.  The doctors then diagnosed Gianmarco with HLH (Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis), which likely came about as a result from his initial treatment.  The doctors attempted to treat it.  A cure is sometimes found through a bone marrow transplant.  While the doctors never found leukemia again, the HLH took over so quickly that they didn’t even have time to try for a bone marrow transplant.  Gianmarco passed away on January 6, 2016 at 9.5 years of age. 

“Gianmarco was always very enthusiastic about science,” remembers Dr. Amy McHenry, biology professor at Southwestern.  “He loved nature and was always asking questions—two signs of a good biologist.  I especially remember working with him during summer day camp to learn about how the heart pumps.”

nursing, mission trip, community service

A bone marrow transplant could have saved Gianmarco (pictured above), if time allowed.  Bone marrow transplants can still make a difference for many patients like him.  The Delete Blood Cancer Drive helps to strengthen the database of possible marrow donors.  A common misconception of the process is that it is painful.  With advancing technology, all that is required of a potential donor is a swab of saliva, which will be taken on-site at the Drive.  If a match is found, the potential donor will be called into to give blood, usually from a vein in the arm.  The process is much simpler and almost pain-free in comparison to the process of just a few years ago.

“Every 3 minutes, an American is diagnosed with Blood Cancer. Only 30% of all patients are able to find a compatible donor within their own family. Two years ago, my 9-year-old son, Gianmarco, was diagnosed with leukemia,” explains Sonia Vergel, Gianmarco’s mother. “We did not have time to find a match for him. In his memory, we hosted a blood drive last year and two matches were found out of only 130 people! This year, we hope to have even more people attend.”

The expo is from 10:00am-3:00pm on April 2 at the Leiske-Pultar gymnasium at 302 W Magnolia, Keene. Other activities at the event include the opportunity to apply for jobs, a lawyer assisting with living wills, entertainment by local school choirs and bands, food demonstrations and sales, well-woman exams, Computerized Health Age Appraisal and other health screenings, and more.  More information about the event, including attending business and health services, can be found at or by calling the Keene Chamber of Commerce at 817-556-2995.

nursing, health, job fair, business expo


Sponsorships and Exhibitors

This event is co-hosted by the Keene Chamber of Commerce and Southwestern Adventist University with the Keene Economic Development Corp. and the Keene Community Development Corp. Second tier sponsorship is provided by Crossroad Fellowship Adventist Church. Third tier sponsorship is provided by City of Keene, General Insurance Service, Ideals Design, Keene Family Dental, Mertz Family Dentistry, Mission Hospice, Quality Brakes & Alignment, Signs of Success, Town Hall Estates, Pinnacle Bank, and Universal Windows Direct of DFW.

Exhibitors include Keene Chamber of Commerce, Pinnacle Bank, Quality Brakes & Alignment, Keller Williams Paige Henslee, Putnam Service, City of Keene, Read-Billingsley Real Estate, Moncrief Cancer UT Southwest, Lake Whitney Ranch, Cleburne Hyperbarics Clinic, Town Hall Estates, Mission Hospice, Hope Clinic, Texas Adventist Book Center, Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church, Southwestern Adventist University, Gillin Real Estate, Southwestern Adventist University Nursing Department (Health Screenings), Texas Health Harris Methodist Cleburne, Awards by Mastercraft, Keene Family Dental, Court Appointed Special Advocates, Thurman Transportation, Inc., Children’s Advocacy Center, Seredan Design, How Sweet It Is Bakery, Hill College Johnson County Campus, Mertz Family Dentistry, Hearts & Flowers – Timeout Massage, Universal Windows Direct of DFW, Community Hospice, Bliss Family Chiropractic, Cleburne Railroaders Baseball, Signs of Success, Hopps Automotive, Jeremy Owens Paint & Body, Keene Adventist Elementary School, Keene Independent School District, Shady Lakes Ranch, Crossroad Fellowship Cowboy Church, Rosser Funeral Home, Marshall Young Insurance, Crosier Pearson Cleburne Funeral Home, and Universal Windows Direct of DFW.

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