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Aggies BTHO COVID-19: Cristy Ecton ‘94

Cristy Ecton ‘94 is a public relations professional who also volunteers as a courier for Be the Match. Her COVID-19 experiences embody the Aggie core value of selfless service.

By Rachel Knight ‘18

Unprecedented times call for unwavering heroes. Cristy Ecton ‘94 has embodied the Aggie core value of selfless service. She is an unwavering hero of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Ecton is a public relations professional at Children’s Health in Dallas. She’s also a volunteer courier for Be the Match, a nonprofit that manages the largest marrow registry in the world that’s used to cure blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma. She’s been successfully fighting COVID-19 by continuing to serve sick children and cancer patients. 

In our interview with Ecton, which has been condensed and edited for clarity, it’s easy to see that some heroes bleed maroon instead of wearing capes.

Have you used your liberal arts education during the pandemic? If so how?
I’m so proud to be an Aggie. I learned so much resilience and creativity during college that I’ve used throughout my life. This pandemic has been the boot camp of exercising those skills.

I work at Children’s Health in Dallas as a public relations professional in hematology/oncology, and I’ve totally had to pivot. We cannot host events. We cannot have donors or volunteers at the hospital, so I am using more of my writing skills. I am creating patient story blogs for Children’s Cancer Fund to share how donors’ contributions are helping make life better for children—the Children’s Health mission.

What are you doing to BTHO COVID-19?
I am a volunteer marrow courier for Be the Match (formerly National Marrow Donor Program). Usually more than 400 people are couriering throughout the country and world, but because of the pandemic, the number of active couriers has been cut in half because many of the volunteers are retirees and/or transplant recipients, and they cannot risk exposure. Since March 16, I have taken 17 trips to deliver marrow or blood stem cells for a patient awaiting transplant throughout the U.S.

I feel like I help BTHO COVID-19 because I’ve been on commercial flights that were nearly empty, I’ve walked through an empty Times Square, I’ve stood in the longest lines at Trader Joe’s from Fairfax, Virginia, to San Francisco just to take some dinner back to my hotel room (i.e. self isolate).

At every delivery, I make a point to make eye contact with the person I give the blood stem cells and tell them I wish the patient the best. 

How are you coping with self isolation requirements?
I work at home in blocks of time instead of one long day like in the office, which I like! It gives me time to think about projects—which is nice!

Luckily, my gym reopened with social distancing, so I workout  three or four times a week. Before that, I kept my sanity by working out in the living room with daily YouTube workouts.

Every day before dinner my boyfriend, Tosh, and I play Yahtzee and watch Wheel of Fortune. We really enjoy cooking – Tosh prepares the protein, and I prep the vegetables.

I keep a checklist on Google Keep of all the potential things I could do before the day ends like journal, read a New Yorker, brush and floss. Checking these off feels like checking off accomplishments. 

What tips or advice do you have for others who are coping with the pandemic?
Stay flexible and friendly. Rules everywhere change moment by moment. Whether grocery store, airline, or your work—remember these changes are responsive to how to keep everyone safe.

Share your COVID-19 Story!
We want to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted your life. Share your story with the College of Liberal Arts by filling out this survey.