The BE GREAT Foundation carries the torch of the memory and legacy of Alexander James Plotas who died at the age of 13 months on September 21, 2011, due to respiratory complications after a SUCCESSFUL Allogeneic Cord Blood Transplant (commonly known as a Bone Marrow Transplant "BMT"). BE GREAT was established November 2011, by Alison and Pete Plotas, 7 weeks after their son Alexander died. Alexander inspired many (young and old) during his life and journey with immune deficiency. His lesson to all of us, of making the most of the situation and refusing to give up, is what fuels us.
Alexander's transplant was astonishingly successful, with engraftment achieved on day +12. Although both Alexander's cord blood and his older sister's cord blood were privately stored at birth, neither could be used in his transplant. Thankfully through BE THE MATCH and the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), several matches were identified and Alexander's doctors at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC were able to go through the exercise of narrowing down the short list to the donor cord that would best be used for his transplant. And amazingly their research, experience and care of Alexander paid off in the success of his transplant. It is this success that gives us energy to move ahead knowing that other families will be able to overcome immune deficiency diagnosis and give their child hope for a future. The risks of Alexander's BMT were fully understood by his parents who knew that without the BMT, Alexander's life expectancy would've been very short due to his inability to fight infections. This was the only hope to give him a future.
Alexander’s determination and energy moved us to launch the BE GREAT Foundation to help kids, parents, advocates and physicians achieve their goals in the fight to treat immune deficiency and achieve the best outcomes possible. Immune deficiency is beatable. There are management protocols and curative treatments, which give kids healthy lives. BE GREAT Foundation works toward helping make this happen for as many as possible. From newborn screening, advancing medical equipment and curative treatments to improving parental support; BE GREAT focuses on kids fighting and overcoming immune deficiency. Since inception in 2011, many generous contributions and support from individual donors, sponsors and partners, enable us to work tirelessly so every child has a chance to be healthy and to Be Great!
Died on September 21st 2011 at 13 months of age due to respiratory complications from a severe form of immune deficiency, after a successful Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT). Alexander was a smiley, magnetic and determined little boy with enchanting blue eyes who received his BMT at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. under the care of a devoted and talented medical team. While waiting for his new immune system to activate, pneumonia set in. After 2 weeks in the ICU, the complications were too severe for Alexander to overcome. Prior to that, Alexander’s journey included 160 days in the hospital and multiple infection-related obstacles he overcame which would have been catastrophic to any adult.
While Alexander didn't have words yet, he said a lot to his parents, his loving big sister and his medical care giving family. Here are the things we heard from him along the way that we carry forward with us in the work of BE GREAT to help all the other Alexanders out there.
Smile a lot. Be happy. Don't complain.Take it as it comes.
It's a beautiful day every day. Press forward and stay calm.
Remain hopeful and trust that things will work out.
Look into my eyes and see that I am NOT afraid.
Take courage from me and be strong.
Things may get darker before the light shines through.
Enjoy each day without expectation.
Smile a lot. Be happy.
Alison is the President and Co-Founder of the BE GREAT Foundation. Alison leads BE GREAT in its mission to improve the lives and medical outcomes of children with immune deficiency.
She shares her family’s experience and Alexander’s journey with others through BE GREAT. Alison is involved at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington DC by facilitating the BMT Family Orientation Program, as a member of the PICU and Hematology Parent Councils, and a speaker to Nurses during Palliative Care Training. In 2018, Alison was asked to join the Collaborative Pediatric Critical Care Research Nationwide Network as a parent representative.
Professionally, Alison is a Product Strategist for a Global Fortune 50 company. Her career has included work in strategy, management, and business process consulting to government and commercial clients for over 20 years. Alison is a PMI Certified Project Management Professional and has a B.A. in Business and Studio Arts from Lake Forest College, in her home state of Illinois.
Alison and her husband Pete live in Maryland and are busy with their 2 children.
Pete is an innovative leader with over 20 years of experience in driving business growth through strategic alliances, business development and corporate strategy initiatives. He has led global teams for both start-up and large enterprises, establishing hundreds of successful alliance, channel and technology partnerships across his career. Pete has served in various leadership roles at Accenture, Agentrics, Clarabridge, Jaggaer, RollStream, and OpenText. He holds an MBA and a B.S. in Finance from the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland.
Kim Sullivan is a Principal and Co-Studio Director at Gensler, the world’s leading collaborative design firm. Kim leads a studio with a focus on delivering outstanding results to her clients across a spectrum of industries. The convergence of Kim’s design and business thinking provides a unique perspective and leadership style, and delivers outcomes that align a client’s vision, operations, and work environment. Kim’s workplace strategy and project management experience includes working with professional services firms such as Hogan Lovells, Akin Gump, and The Brattle Group, as well as hospitality and technology leaders such as Marriott International and Facebook. Kim served on industry panels hosted by Bisnow and CBRE and is a co-founder for the Smith Executive Business Round Table. She received her Bachelor’s in Interior Design from Virginia Tech and her MBA from the University of Maryland, Robert H. Smith School of Business.
BE GREAT Foundation is an approved 501(c)(3) public charity. BE GREAT Foundation is doing many wonderful things as a result of donor help through fundraising.
We will always be open with what BE GREAT is doing with the funds entrusted to our care. We will be posting BE GREAT financial information on this page as it becomes available, so you can see the work we do and become inspired to share in our vision.
Is the preeminent pediatric healthcare facility in the metropolitan Washington, DC region. The 303-bed facility admitted more than 14,000 patients and provided 370,000 outpatient visits in 2011. Patients and families travel locally, nationally, and internationally to receive care from pediatric specialists, making the institution a truly diverse setting for services, education and training. In addition to providing world-class specialty care, Children’s National serves as the medical safety net for the children of the region. Through 37 locations, including six community-based health centers in the District of Columbia, seven regional outpatient facilities in Maryland and Virginia, and a Mobile Health Program, Children’s National brings health care directly into the communities of the most vulnerable children and families in the region. For the fourth consecutive year, Children’s National was selected by the Leapfrog Group for its Patient Safety’s Top Hospitals List - one of only seven children’s hospitals granted this honor. Children’s National earned the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet® designation; just 6% of all U.S. hospitals achieve this elite recognition, the highest for nursing excellence. U.S. News & World Report again named Children’s National as one of the nation’s best pediatric hospitals, ranking among the top tier in all ten categories measured. For more information, visit http://www.childrensnational.org/
Be The Match helps patients with immunodeficiency, leukemia, lymphoma and other diseases who need a marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant. People can join the Be The Match Registry® – the world’s largest listing of potential marrow donors and donated cord blood units – contribute financially and volunteer. Patients and their families can also turn to Be The Match for support and resources before, during and after transplant. Be The Match is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP), a nonprofit organization that matches patients with donors, educates health care professionals and conducts research so more lives can be saved. For more information, visit http://marrow.org/Home.aspx