The Rowan University women’s basketball team hosted a National Bone Marrow Registry event with Be The Match on Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 6, inside the Chamberlain Student Center. Be The Match is a nonprofit National Marrow Donor Program founded in 1986, which helps conduct research to improve transplant outcomes while providing support and resources for patients.
The basketball team took shifts from the 12-4 pm time slot in which their registry table and information was set up inside of the student center.
Gabrielle Morales, the recruitment coordinator for Be The Match, was in attendance to guide the basketball team on how to get students to join the registry and be potential matches for those in need.
“Today we are spreading awareness about the Be The Match registry. We help patients who have blood cancers and disorders like leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell [disease],” said Morales. “What we’re doing today is just asking students to do the first step, which is signing up on the Be The Match registry to see if they can be a potential life-saving match for a patient in need.”
For the women’s basketball team, this event resonated deeply with them as their Head Coach Demetrius Poles is battling multiple myeloma, a type of bone marrow cancer.
“We appreciate everything he’s been able to do for us despite him having sick days still being able to come to practice and help a cause that’s similar to something that he’s going through definitely means a lot to us,” said senior Captain Nicole Mallard added.
Fellow senior Captain Eliana Santana reflected on how important the event was for Rowan and what it means for the team.
“It means a lot,” said Santana. “[It can benefit] people like Coach Poles who needed a stem cell transplant, so I think it touches all of us that we’re doing this.”
Morales explained how she had established a connection with the Rowan football team last season when they hosted their own Be The Match event, which led to the opportunity with the women’s basketball team.
“It started out with football teams. I cover New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware and now we’re expanding to all athletics,” said Morales. “We did this with the football team last year in the spring and we were able to get over 300 [participants] and now we’re just trying to partner with as many athletics as we can.”
The basketball team helped guide participants through the process of registering on the Be The Match website, which first started with a questionnaire about one’s medical history. Participants were then asked to provide a sample by swabbing their cheeks to determine their HLA type to be entered into the registry.
After that process, the participants will join the registry and wait to see if they are a potential match and be willing to donate.
Morales cited the basketball team as a huge help in getting the Rowan community to register.
“They have been so great, I know they were a little scared to approach people at first, but they are killing it and I am really happy to be working with them,” said Morales.
Through the Be The Match and National Bone Marrow Donor Registry event, the women’s basketball team was able to raise awareness while recruiting members of Rowan University to take action by joining the registry.
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