My name is Keenan "Special" Bristol and I am an actor, dancer, rapper of Caribbean descent who was born in Brooklyn, NY.
In 2009, my mother underwent a major knee surgery at the Maimonides Medical Center in New York City. It was during this time that my three siblings and I learned that the doctors did not have sufficient blood available on hand to save our mother, due to lack of blood donations from the Black-American, Latino and Caribbean ethnicities.
After an incredibly intense and terrifying few days spent scrambling to find someone whose blood type matched my mother’s, we were thankfully able to find a Latino woman that was a match. Thus, my mother’s life was saved.
This experience was a hard lesson for my family. It taught us a simple truth that most people do not seem to think about in life: we rarely ever spare a
second thought for the blood that flows through our bodies. But it is always there—a silent but essential presence within us, quietly but decidedly keeping us alive. Indeed, it was like listening to a foreign language when the doctors said, “You may lose your mom because our hospital lacks the blood supply she needs”.
Blood, as we quickly learned, is an essential life force. It is a gift that all human beings were given freely when entered this world. Without the gift of blood, life would be extinguished. No one should have to go through the emotional turmoil of losing a loved one due to blood shortages.
In the end, my mother was saved, but not every family is so fortunate. After witnessing this near-death experience, I made a promise to myself: I would make it my mission to be part of the solution to this problem. I then decided to use my entertaining genius and musical talents to bring awareness and increase blood donations within the Black-American, Latino and Caribbean American communities, by creating Music Brings Life.