Atlanta and Minneapolis Tributes Celebrate 25 Years, 50,000 Transplants

Posted November 6th, 2012 by Be The Match and filed in Donor Stories, Patient Stories
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The month of September was a busy one for everyone at Be The Match® and Be The Match Foundation®. Planning was in full swing for two fundraising galas, one in Minneapolis on Sept. 5 and one in Atlanta on Sept. 22. Here is a flavor of what happened at the two events.

Decked out in downtown Minneapolis…

Zalika spent years suffering from sickle cell anemia until Tinisha became her donor. Zalika and Tinisha met for the first time at the Minneapolis Tribute.On Wednesday, Sept. 5, 650 attendees filled the Minneapolis Hilton to pay tribute to 25 years and 50,000 transplants. The event raised more than $310,000 for Be The Match, an increase of more than $50,000 over last year. Before the program began, attendees had a fun time bidding on 265 silent auction items.

Ann Goldenberg Altman , tribute committee chair and a survivor welcomed everyone. Ann was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at 23 and was successfully treated with chemo.

“Fear of relapse is always there, even with all the gratitude and luck,” says Ann. “For me, if that happens, I know my path. The possibility of needing a transplant was always my worse-case scenario. If there’s a way to pay it forward, I want to do that. I didn’t want to wait to be involved with Be The Match until I need it. I want this organization to be well funded and cutting edge, and I want there to be all the registry members it takes to find matches.”

The formal dinner included the excitement of a live auction. Items auctioned off included two VIP tickets to a Madonna concert, a five-course dinner for eight people at Murray’s, a trip to Charlotte for a NASCAR race and Twins vs. Yankees tickets.

Dr. Jeffrey Chell, CEO of the National Marrow Donor Program® and Christine Fleming, president of Be The Match Foundation spoke during the program, and Dr. Dennis Confer, chief medical officer for the National Marrow Donor Program hosted a moving donor/recipient meeting between recipient, Zalika, and her donor, Tinisha. Zalika suffered through the pain of sickle cell anemia for years, was frequently in and out of the hospital, and missed out on a normal high school experience. She gratefully received her transplant from Tinisha in 2010.


Meanwhile, down in Atlanta…

A total of 265 attendees gathered at Fernbank Museum of Natural History for a second Tribute on Saturday, Sept. 22. Many attendees seemed to know each other and greeted each other warmly. The auctioneer had them whooping and hollering during the live auction, with lots of cheering after each bid. Revenue from the event totaled over $108,000. There were 130 silent auction items and three live auction items (round-trip airfare for two; one week stay in Costa Rica and a seven-day stay at Alabama’s Lake Wedowee).

The donor/recipient meeting in Atlanta introduced Asa to her donor Edward. Asa is an elementary school teacher in Marietta, GA, who underwent a marrow transplant in 2010 for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

During the program, Meg, a transplant recipient who attended the 2011 Council Meeting was the keynote speaker. “The room was completely riveted by Meg’s speech,” said Tiffany Friesen, regional director of Be The Match Foundation. “You could hear a pin drop.”

The two galas were  celebrations of what Be The Match has accomplished—25 years and 50,000 transplants—and of the exciting growth and life-saving advances that are strived for each new day.


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