Alan Kennell’s son, Preston, has severe hemophilia A. Every fall, the Kennell family raises money and awareness for bleeding disorders at the New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival in Laconia.
Tell us about your bleeding disorders story.
Our son, Preston, has severe hemophilia. When he was born, the doctors did a heel prick to do some test or other, and it wouldn’t stop bleeding. Hours went by, and it just kept oozing, so eventually the doctors started to look into it. The doctors did a factor test, and that’s how we found out he had hemophilia. Later we did some genetic testing, and my wife, Melissa, discovered that not only was she a carrier, her mother was, too. Our daughter, Vivian, is also a carrier. We had no idea it was in the family.
Where did you find support for your family?
The New England Hemophilia Association (NEHA) has always been a great resource for us, right from the start. We wanted to learn as much as we could about hemophilia. We started going to their family camp, which is always a great place to connect with other families that are going through the same thing—families that have the same struggles and concerns. We also participate in the NEHA Walk and go to their education days. The chapter does so much for families who are new to hemophilia and don’t know what to do. We were a new family like that once, so we want to give back.
How are you giving back?
Every fall, there’s the New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival in Laconia. It has a lot of food vendors and contests and activities like pumpkin bowling, as well as a huge display of carved pumpkins. It’s a fun family event, with lots of activities for kids. Since I work in Laconia, I thought it would be a great way to raise awareness and some funds for bleeding disorders. Outside my office, my kids set up a table and sell these pumpkin hats. We sell them at enough of a profit so that we can cover the cost of the hats. It’s a lot of fun.
Why do you think it’s important?
We raised around $500, which we donated to NEHA for their holiday party. But it means more than that. Preston feels like he’s contributing and giving back. At the table, we can talk to people about bleeding disorders and raise awareness.
And we’re supporting our chapter, which has done so much to support families like ours. The chapters really need our support, so we’re happy to do what we can.