An outpouring of support from a school the Rucker family is familiar with filled them with joy and hope as Marquita Rucker battles stage 5 kidney disease.
On Sept. 8, Seneca High School’s student council president Maddy Miller organized a car wash fundraiser at Evergreen Dairy Bar in Southampton to raise funds for Marquita’s medical expenses. The car wash raised $600 for the family.
Marquita graduated from Lenape High School in 2004, and her dad, Fred, was an assistant athletic director at Seneca until 2014 and taught at Lenape prior to that.
Fred said he met people at the car wash he hasn’t seen in several years and their siblings. Two of the students were ones he used to “chase off of basketball courts after games” as he was closing the gyms when they were kids, and now they’re in high school.
Mom Mitchelle said she spoke with people at the event who attended because they remembered Fred for being a great person and knew of the family.
“It was a little bit overwhelming because I’m not really a person who talks about what I go through, so this has definitely made me step outside of my comfort zone and open up to it a little more,” said Marquita.
Marquita said, in March of 2017, she found out she had kidney disease after visits with a practitioner, hematologist, nephrologist and a visit to the emergency room.
She went through a variety tests such as genetic, blood, urine and stool to determine the cause and has had blood transfusions to regulate her levels until she was given the diagnosis, and later told she’s eligible to have a kidney transplant.
As a result of her diagnosis, Marquita said expenses can add up quickly as there are items insurance won’t cover, as well as the cost of her medication. Mitchelle added fundraising to offset the costs allows Marquita to focus on healing and not the bills.
The transplant has not been scheduled as the family and the University of Penn Medicine are still searching for a donor match, preferably a living donor.
The family added if someone believes they could be a match to Marquita, or any person waiting for a donor, they can go to www.PennMedicine.org, to the “Patients and Visitors” drop-down menu and selecting “Transplant Institute.”
“They can take your information over the phone, or fill it out online,” Mitchelle said. “Just send it in, and you go through the same testing that she did to see if you match her or someone else in need.”
The family added they believe people should sign up to be an organ donor as they can give life to another person. Marquita also squashed a misconception that donors are killed or assaulted for their organs by stating there’s a number of tests and doctors a person has to be cleared through to be eligible for donation.
While waiting for a match, Marquita said she doesn’t spend her time dwelling on the diagnosis and does things that spark joy in her, such as dancing or writing.
“I try my best to live my life,” Marquita said. “Yes, I’m scared, but I refuse to let it win and live my life scared. I’m scared, but I’m not going to let it beat me.”
To donate to Marquita, visit www.HelpHopeLive.org/Donate and make a donation in Marquita’s name. The Ruckers have plans to host more fundraisers in the future.
“I want to go to Disneyworld,” Marquita said. “I’ve gone, but I haven’t gone in 10 years. It’s all I want to do. I would love for my dream team who came out, helped and supported me, I would love for us to all go and have a good time and celebrate how far we’ve come.”