While football players were trying to gain student sign-ups for the bone marrow registry during their Be the Match Registry event, there was proof their efforts had already saved a life, not because of a recruit, but because of one of the football players themselves.
“About four or five years ago, Matt Hoffman was a match for somebody, but the medication he was on didn’t allow him to play football, so he didn’t play the last game of his junior year,” said head football coach Jay Accorsi.
According to Accorsi, Hoffman went on to donate the following summer, finding out from the recipient that he had saved his life.
“In December, Matt was up for a national award in Virginia and that’s where they met and a lot of national TV stations covered it,” Accorsi said.
For players working at the sign-up table in the Chamberlain Student Center Pit on April 23, such as defensive lineman John Perez, the event was about the act of volunteering.
“We feel obligated to be here, to possibly help save a life,” Perez said. “It’s a privilege to play football here, and today’s more of a giving-back day for us.”
The team does the Be the Match Registry event in conjunction with the Andy Talley Bone Marrow Foundation.
“[Andy Talley] is the head football coach at Villanova,” Accorsi said. “There are teams all along the East Coast that get involved with it in the spring.”
Some participants were grateful for the bone marrow registry because they have had personal ties to someone whose life was changed because of it.
“My uncle just passed a month ago,” said junior communication studies major Brianna Machinski. “He had a pre-leukemia disease and had a bone marrow transfusion almost a year ago. He worked with Be The Match, and he did a lot of these events after he was diagnosed.”
Because the cause is close to her heart, Machinski took the time to participate in the registry herself.
“It’s not an obligation to be here, but to honor him in a way,” Machinski said. “It’s a simple, quick thing that doesn’t hurt to do and can help someone else for the long term.”
Leading up to the sixth annual Be the Match Registry, the team has been able to register close to 1,700 names into the bone marrow registry, said Accorsi.
Last year, the team was able to help enroll 493 people in the registry while this year they were able to register 325.
“I think our goal was close to last year’s again, which we’ll probably fall short of,” Accorsi said. “It has a lot to do with the weather in the day. It’s a little colder today out, there’s not as many people out, but the guys are still doing a great job.”
Wide receiver Todd Guillaume, who was recruiting volunteers, explained the project.
“This is our community service project and it will be a success because the team is able to communicate with the campus and vice versa,” Guillame said. “Hopefully this will boost our fan base, too. The good thing about the football team is our diversity. We all know different people for us to bring in here, and our interaction has been great.”
Players were encouraging passers-by to sign-up over the course of seven hours during the day.
“We’re giving 100 percent here today,” Perez said. “It’s instilled in us as football players to be disciplined and to help how we can. We want to be here.”
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