DKMS honors the Sternblitz Family
By Deb Silverthorn
“Sternblitz” means star explosion, and how appropriately David, Susan, Jordan and Hallie Sternblitz are named. They are a family who has lit up the community by setting the example of giving: giving of their resources of time and energy, fiscally and of themselves in the truest way, by saving lives.
The family will be honored at the DKMS Annual Awards Breakfast — Saving Lives with the Sternblitzes — at 8 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16, at the Northwood Club in North Dallas. DKMS is an international nonprofit bone marrow donor center.
“Not only are the Sternblitzen, as we call them, dear friends to my family but also to the community. They are true mensches who give with their whole hearts and their DNA,” said Amy Roseman, DKMS’ U.S. central donor recruiter.
The Sternblitz family first connected to DKMS when their friend Karen Stock was in need of a bone marrow donor. In 2009, Susan helped plan and execute a donor drive at NorthPark Center at which more than 800 people showed their support.
“We are honoring good friends and in this we have come full circle. The Sternblitz family shows up — and showing up is everything. Some people register and get called but, for whatever reason, they stand back. Not them. In every way they have stood up,” said Stock. Thirteen years later, she is healthy and well, this year co-chairing the DKMS breakfast with her husband Aric and friends Laura and Jim Forson. Honorary chairs are Jenny and Adam Saphier.
Having met as classmates at E.D. Walker Middle School, Karen and Susan were reunited when their children were attending Greenhill School together. When Susan heard the drive for Karen was being planned, she took on the role of volunteer coordinator, and more than 100 volunteers turned out.
“When Karen needed help, I was like ‘Put me in, coach.’ I would have done anything to help her, but I couldn’t have known how deep our connection to DKMS would become,” said Susan. Her heart for the work of DKMS began with earlier drives for dear friends Lanny Cooper and Joel Schickman, both of blessed memory, and afterward when she served as a home-school teacher for Zach Guillot, of blessed memory. The stories of people whose lives needed saving kept coming, touching her and her family.
While Stock’s donor was found outside of that event, it was that day that David Sternblitz first registered with DKMS. A day that would change a stranger’s life … but not for years to come.
It was in fact five years later that David was called and told he was a potential donor for a stranger. The only information he knew was that the recipient was a woman in the United Kingdom, and his blood stem cells would save her life.
“To provide the extension of life, and time with one’s family, is immeasurable. My recipient wrote she’d only been able to attend her son’s wedding because of the transplant. Her son’s wedding — that is everything,” said David. “Karen is alive today because someone gave. So many are alive, or at least had their lives extended, because someone stood up. I couldn’t feel stronger that whatever we can do, we must do.”
The Sternblitzes’ children Jordan and Hallie didn’t just tag along; they have been hands-on since they were young. Growing with the organization, they each held DKMS donor drives and Hallie served on its youth advisory board. It was during her time on the board that she had the honor to swab her brother when he turned 18. She is now a freshman at Georgetown University.
“DKMS is a cause about which I was raised to be passionate since I was 5 years old. I remember trying to convince strangers to do something I was years away from being able to participate in myself. At that first drive I didn’t realize the importance of what we were doing but when my dad got the call to donate stem cells, I saw how any one of us ‘ordinary people’ can change the trajectory of a life,” said Hallie.
“It is very rare that a volunteer gets to see the impact of their efforts, but watching my brother go through the donation process, after registering him myself on his 18th birthday, fostered an even greater passion within me. I hope everyone reading this will join us in our fight to find a match for every patient in need,” said Hallie.
Like it was for his father, the call for Jordan to step up and donate took years. He was identified as a potential donor four years after he registered, and the donation was for a woman in her 60s, no other details known, on Dec. 21, 2021. For him, the honors by DKMS are definitely a family affair.
“The work of DKMS is literally that of gifting life. There is nothing more special. Being honored by DKMS means so much because while the honors come together, and we’ve done so much for DKMS together, we each really have our own relationship and connection to the organization,” said Jordan. He recently earned his master’s degree at the University of Michigan and is now a management consulting analyst at Point B in Dallas.
For the family, the recognition is an honor; but getting the word out for people, ages 18 to 55, who have never registered is primary. Swabbing can be done at any of many events that happen throughout the community, but the registration can also be arranged online at tinyurl.com/DKMS-Sternblitz-Virtual-Drive.
“I’m so proud of our family, of David and the kids. To share this honor is really special. To know the impact we have had, from helping people fill out forms to literally extending lives, is everything,” said Susan.
“The Shearith Israel family is so proud of the Sternblitzes for their longstanding dedication to DKMS and their support of its vital work in so many different ways,” said CSI’s Senior Rabbi Ari Sunshine. “The Talmud in Tractate Sanhedrin 37a teaches that ‘whoever saves a single life is considered by Scripture to have saved the whole world.’ We’re blessed to have such amazing, life-saving mensches in our community. Mazal tov, Susan, David, Jordan and Hallie, and thanks for all you do!”
To register for the breakfast, visit tinyurl.com/DKMS-Honors-Sternblitz-Family. To register with Saving Lives with the Sternblitzes as a prospective donor, visit the link mentioned above, tinyurl.com/DKMS-Sternblitz-Virtual-Drive.