Exactly three years ago today, I shared one of the most rewarding experiences with my eighth students. We held the most attended bone marrow drive in Iowa history. It still gives me goosebumps to remember that event.
One of our fourth grade students was in need of a bone marrow transplant because he suffers from aplastic anemia. As a show of support, our class volunteered our time to organize an event to sign up area residents to be bone marrow donors. We worked with the Be The Match foundation and researched bone marrow transplants extensively, learning about all the ins and outs of the procedures from the organization as well as people who had been through the process. This was a shining example of how I, as a teacher, was gaining just as much knowledge as my students.
A local grocery store chain offered us their facilities one Friday evening in December. The students made extensive fundraising efforts to earn money to pay for the cost of processing each new registry. They also learned a lot about marketing and advertising, as we spread the word about this fantastic cause.
The night of the event was magical. Over nine hundred people showed up to simply swab the inside of their cheek to register. The process was as simple as filling out paperwork and using a q-tip to swab cheek cells, but educating the general public about the process was part of our endeavor. Be the Match then type samples the results to match each possible donor to a patient. I am certain that the holiday spirit played a significant role in bringing out the numbers we had that evening and I am eternally grateful for all the support we were shown.
I know of at least two people that registered that evening that have since donated bone marrow, but I know that I only knew a small fraction of the people who registered so I imagine there must be more who have had the opportunity in the past three years. Today I will send out another e-mail to hopefully be updated on our numbers. I will anxiously await the results, as it is a phenomenal feeling to know that we had a part in helping patients receive the care that they are in desperate need of.
The process is tremendously easy. If you are interested, please visit the Be the Match Website for information about how to receive a registration kit, do a simple cheek swab and be on the registry. ‘Tis the season!
Every year since, I have done a significant philanthropy project with my students. What organizations do you hold near and dear to your heart? Are you on the national bone marrow registry list?