23 May Being Lifesavers
For the past few weeks the flyer circulating on the SHSU campus began with the following:
Eta Sigma Gamma, Health Education Honorary, is proud to be the official SHSU sponsor for the:
BE THE MATCH REGISTRY®
OPERATED BY THE NATIONAL MARROW DONOR PROGRAM®
The National Marrow Donor Program is a nonprofit organization that is the global leader in providing umbilical cord blood and bone marrow transplants. The Be the Match Registry contains the world’s largest list of potential marrow donors and donated cord blood units. They also raise funds to help provide such transplants to all patients. Another role of Be the Match is to match patients with donors, conduct research through the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research, and to educate healthcare professionals.
This organization facilitates more than 5,800 transplants a year and since 1987, has participated in 55,000 transplants to give patients a second chance at life.
This amazing organization has been on the Sam Houston State University campus for several years for the purpose of recruiting young people to register and be potential donors. One of the initial and very important aspects for an agency recruiter to come into the classrooms to provide education on the process and to encourage students to donate as well as volunteer on campus at the recruitment tents. As with any volunteer process, it is important to provide minimal training in the process if possible. The classroom is where many students get ‘hooked’ and enticed. It is a natural fit for the organization to educate within the health and kinesiology classrooms. In addition, many of the courses in this department require volunteer and or civic engagement hours from the students.
So, where does Eta Sigma Gamma fit into this scheme? Beginning this semester, “Be the Match” will be Eta Sigma Gamma’s philanthropic endeavor each time they are on campus. Between the members of Eta Sigma Gamma and many other health education students, the volunteering was essential in making a successful campaign.
The members of the organization were initially educated on the program by Benita Davis, a Be The Match Recruiter who not only shared the registry process, but shared several poignant and touching stories. As a result, many dedicated members were on board. In addition, flyers were created and distributed across campus including the office student organizations.
The donor project began on Monday, April 1st – Thursday, April 4th. On Monday, April 1st, Eta Sigma Gamma sponsored a campus wide program held at our student center theatre. Over 50 individuals attended this inspirational evening. Two speakers shared their stories to kick off this week of recruiting ‘life savers’.
The first speaker was Tomi Garrison, SHSU Health Student Alum, and former Kat softball player. While Tomi was in her senior year of college, she was informed that she was a match for a patient with multiple myeloma. Tomi shared her story of the process, of the excitement and of waiting the official year after ‘her patient’ recovered to begin communication with her.
The second speaker was Rachel Neihart, recruiter for Be the Match as well as a bone marrow recipient. Rachel shared her sweet story of having met her donor as well as pictures of him attending her wedding which included a bride/donor dance. There were very few dry eyes in the crowd.
The long week of dragging tables, tents and chairs across campus; of stepping out (literally) into zones of discomfort while encouraging fellow students to at least listen to the registry process; and of developing a true understanding of what volunteerism means culminated on Thursday afternoon with 349 potential donors (life savers). One could look into the picture of this week and see that lives were changed. Many of the members of Eta Sigma Gamma will mark this adventure as a wonderful opportunity and a learning experience that will long be with them. In addition, there will be excitement generated for the next semester that we once again seek ‘life savers’ on the campus of Sam Houston State.