Celebrating 20 years of student commitment to saving lives

Posted January 11th, 2011 by Be The Match and filed in Donor Stories
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Project Life is the longest running student-run marrow registry drive in the country. Davidson College students and alumni, faculty, administration and staff recently celebrated 20 years of dedication to recruiting potential donors to the Be The Match Registry® and raising funds for that work. In that time, this small school of about 1,700 students in North Carolina has added more than 4,800 members to the registry, and at least 38 of them have gone on to donate.

Mary was among the donors at a 20-year celebration of Project Life, along with the young man whose life she saved.

Mary joined the registry and donated while a student at Davidson

Mary joined the registry when she was a freshman at Davidson College. She was on the field hockey team, and a senior on the team who had donated the year before urged all the freshman to participate.

Just two years later, when Mary was a junior, she returned from spring break to find an urgent message waiting for her. She was a potential match for a patient. After she went in for more testing, she was told she was the perfect match and went on to donate bone marrow in 1996 to a one-year-old boy.

Watching her recipient grow up

A year after donation, both Mary and the little boy’s family signed consent forms agreeing to share their contact information with each other. She learned that her recipient’s name was Andy. Mary says she now considers Andy and his parents and brother as family. They’ve visited each other over the years and even took a trip to Disney World together.

Mary says she’s recently become friends on Facebook with Andy, who is now a teenager, and enjoys “getting to see updates on what he’s doing and his interests. I’m very proud of Andy and the young man he’s become.”

Project Life was part of the culture of Davidson

Mary says she’s sure she would have joined the registry even without the encouragement of her field hockey teammate. “There was so much activity supporting Project Life going on around campus. Getting involved was just part of the culture of Davidson, part of the Davidson experience.”

Project Life was launched after a student at Davidson was diagnosed with leukemia. When he returned to school after a successful transplant with his sister as his donor, his friends wanted to do something to support him. They decided to raise funds and recruit potential marrow donors to the registry in his honor.

The students asked for and received the administration’s full support. While the whole school got behind the effort, it has been the students themselves who have managed the campaign from the beginning. Each year upperclassmen educate incoming students about the Be The Match Registry®, the need for marrow donors and the need for funds.

Throughout the year students hold fundraising events, such as spaghetti suppers and a tulip sale, to cover the costs of adding new members to the registry. They organize registry drives and conscientiously educate potential members about the commitment involved in joining the registry. They understand the importance of members who appreciate what it means to join the registry and are committed to follow through with donation if they are asked.

12 Responses to “Celebrating 20 years of student commitment to saving lives”

  1. Ray WALLEN says:

    This is so Powerful !!! I am definitely sharing this.

    RW/TWP

  2. Kate says:

    I know the man who was the inspiration behind ProjectLIFE at Davidson–he was the campus minister at my alma mater, Presbyterian College. He started a “chapter” of ProjectLIFE at PC as well and I am a proud participant!! I have yet to be called as a donor but would absolutely love to donate to someone who desperately needs my marrow to save their life!

  3. Susan says:

    Everytime I read these stories of success, I know why I registered years ago. I still hope that one day my phone will ring and I will be a match for someone. I am soooo ready!

  4. jasbro says:

    I’ve known about the Be The Match Registry® (I’m registered!), but I didn’t know about Project Life at Davidson. Thank you, Mary, and all the Wildcats who’ve supported this effort. 20 years is a great start!

  5. J says:

    I joined the registry in 1999 when I was a freshman at Davidson, but I have moved many times since then. How do I update my address?

  6. 1.26.2011 … still raining … « Dennard's Clipping Service says:

    […] youth, altruism, community service, Davidson: I have not given a swab … but I will.  Be The Match , Archive » Celebrating 20 years of student commitment to saving lives. […]

  7. Dale Carlson says:

    Thank You to all of you who have signed up to be a donor. I recieved my transplant back in Decemeber 2006. If it was not for Melanie from Germany getting on the list, I probably would not be here today. Not only am I here I have 19 month old twins. A boy and a girl. How lucky am I !!!!

  8. Sheryl says:

    I’ve been on the registry since 1996 and just a few months ago was indentified as a potential match. Gave some blood for additionlly testing, but never heard back since November. I love hearing stories like this and hope that someday I will be able to give someone a second chance at life, like you have Mary!

  9. facebook fans says:

    viewing this site has been a fun experience. I’ve bookmarked this website for future reference!!

  10. Sharon Wynn says:

    I would like to start a program like this at my college. Could someone possibly give me some pointers on where to start?!!!

    Thank You!!

    Sharon Wynn

  11. Stacy says:

    Sharon, you can submit a “Host a Drive” form on the Be The Match website and to be put you in touch with someone who can help. Here’s the link:
    https://secure.marrow.org/CONTACT/Host_A_Drive/host_a_drive.aspx

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