By KATIE WATTS / Petaluma Towns Correspondent
Petaluma is the can-do community. For decades, community members have supported, stepped up, volunteered, assisted, donated, lent a hand or been of service—giving time, money or needed items to persons or families in need.
Now Travis Schwarz, a longtime resident, could use some help. In early May, just before his 30th birthday, Schwarz was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Before the diagnosis, Schwarz was just an average, friendly community member, with a family, friends, job and things he liked to do in his spare time. Until he was sidelined by his illness, he worked for Home Depot in Rohnert Park.
He attended Casa Grande High School, playing football for the school, he said, “mainly wide receiver and linebacker, all four years.
“I wasn’t good enough to get a scholarship,” he continued with a laugh, “but I had fun.”
He has remained a sports fan, cheering on both the Forty-Niners and the Giants. And, “I’m a big movie fan,” he said, especially comedies like “Wedding Crashers” and “Old School.” He and also likes the Marvel comics genre.
As for a favorite food, he gives his highest praise to his dad’s veal piccata. “It’s so good,” Schwarz said, “it’s hard for it to make it to the table.”
Schwarz is the kind of guy you’d like to have as a next-door neighbor, especially if you need hands-on help.
“I know how to do a lot around a house,” he said. “Painting, construction, wiring, plumbing. I’m interested in interior design. I like to draw, and I usually have pretty good ideas on things. What I come up with looks good, according to my friends.”
What he wants to do is build furniture from salvaged wood and other items, and incorporate tile and glasswork as well.
“I think that using reclaimed, recycled woods and metals is better for the environment,” he said. “I think I could make some pretty artistically interesting furniture.” He’d like to incorporate metal, tile and glasswork.
He’s had a considerable amount of training in the field, working in the hot rod industry, building a kit car, studying with a metal artist and creating kitchen tables and chairs, learning from an uncle who is a cabinet maker.
In addition, “I’m a big fan of welding,” he said. “I like the idea of combining wrought iron with reclaimed wood.”
But before he can set out on that path, he needs to conquer his cancer. Currently he’s a patient at the University of California, San Francisco.
“Right now, it’s going good,” he said. “My body accepted the chemo well and went into remission fairly quickly.”
He has a rare but aggressive form of the disease and other problems have surfaced, including a stricture, a closure in the small intestine, that has stopped him from eating for two weeks.
“As much as I love food,” he commented ruefully,” it’s been tough.”
Both Schwarz and his mother, D’Ann Moore, are optimistic about the future. What he needs is a bone marrow transplant and, to that end, a bone marrow donor drive has been scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 26.
“We have so much hope,” Moore said. “Petaluma, this community, has been wonderful. This has been a humbling experience. There are so many people out there who are willing to save a life.”
“You never think something like this could happen to you,” Schwarz said. “It’s a huge shock. I found out the day before my 30th birthday. And there was nothing I could have done to prevent it.
“Donating your marrow,” he continued, “signing up to be a donor, It doesn’t matter if you don’t help a person you know, because you’re possibly helping someone you don’t know.
“If 400 people come and none match me, possibly there will be 400 others getting help.”
Marv Guggemos and other friends of Travis Schwarz have organized a Bone Marrow Donor Registry event between noon and 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 26, at The Redwood Club, 719 Southpoint Blvd., Petaluma. More information is available from Guggemos at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Potential donors are encouraged to take the painless test, an oral swab, to find out if their marrow matches Schwarz’s. Donors must be between 18 and 60, with 18-40 the ideal age range. Donating marrow is an outpatient procedure that is paid for by the patient.
Other ways to help:
*Go to Be the Match website and find a donor drive in an area better suited to you. Events are held nation wide.
*Request a donor kit from Be the Match. They suggest a donation but it is not required.
*Ethnic donors are desperately needed. Only 7% of the current donor registry is African American, with even fewer Latinos and Asians.