The Chapman football team partnered with the non-profit organization Be The Match in search of registrants for bone marrow donation, getting 356 people to participate.
The team put on the event Wednesday in Attallah Piazza and Argyros Forum, asking people for cheek swabs to be entered in the bethematch.org database and paired with a potential person in need.
Ben Teach, a 3-year-old who was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia last October, inspired the idea. He was introduced to the football team earlier this year by ’08 alumna Paige Morrison.
Ben’s mother and Chapman alumna Liz Teach joined the football team at the event.
“Drives like these are crucial. We rely on the generosity of strangers,” Liz Teach said. “It is such a gift for the community to support bone marrow donation. Chapman’s football team has a heart of gold for helping out.”
Chapman’s football team is one of several in the country participating in Be The Match’s “Get in the Game” program.
Junior running back Jeremiah McKibbins, who helped organize the drive, said the team’s goal was to test as many people as possible to try to save lives like that of Ben Teach.
“This event means the world to us. There is a 1/500 chance to get a match,” McKibbins said. “It’s important to help people in general, (and) the process of helping is fast and easy.”
Football Head Coach Bob Owens said he was proud of his team for taking the time to put on something that can impact and save lives.
“We are lucky to have the opportunity to suppose this cause. We as coaches and players gain a lot from these type of experiences,” Owens said. “You have not lived until you have made someone smile.”
Morrison, a representative for Be The Match, said that she thought the football team would be the perfect group to put on the event because it has a big presence on campus.
“Our goal was to have 400 donors, because last spring Occidental’s football team had 391 people,” Morrison said. “ Being a Panther myself, we wanted to outdo their numbers, but we ended at 356 donors. It was still an amazing turnout and I am so proud of the football team.”
Morrison said there are misconceptions about signing up to be a donor for bone marrow.
“People think that it is painful and scary. All it takes is a swab of a cheek,” she said. “Not only is it a great experience to help out, but the Chapman community gets to see the face of who we are helping.”
It was the first time freshman psychology major Isabel Rebach donated to a bone marrow drive.
“I think it is important because there is such a lack of donors,” Rebach said. “Being a donor is such a simple process and I didn’t know how convenient it would be.”
Be The Match welcomes contributions to help support research and patient support programs. For more information, visit Ben’s campaign page at bethematchfoundation.org/goto/benteach.