Our volunteers mean everything to our mission and our patients. Volunteer and Team Be The MatchSM fundraiser Shirley Jackson has supported Be The Match® for more than 12 years, starting as a volunteer courier. Be The Match couriers transport life-saving marrow across the country – and the world – to transplant centers for patients in need. Shirley joined the courier program in 2004 to help others and honor the memory of her father who died from leukemia.
“My dad had leukemia and died from this, it was really tough,” said Shirley. “When I did my training as a volunteer courier I had a moment where, as I looked out of a window of the Be The Match building, I noticed that my dad’s grave was across the street and that was a real motivator for me.”
Shirley has been on numerous courier trips from Italy to Spain, Germany to England, and all over the U.S. “Each experience was significant, both stressful and exciting,” said Shirley, “Stressful because it’s such a huge responsibility to transport life-saving marrow, and invigorating because I was helping to potentially save someone’s life.”
Shirley encountered many obstacles on these trips. For a courier, it’s critical to deliver the marrow on time. But things like the health of a patient and even weather can quickly change plans – so a courier must be flexible to do the job. Through delays and close calls, Shirley quickly realized that people were always willing to help her get to where she needed to go.
“I once had a flight layover and found out the plane I was on was running late. I had to talk to a flight attendant because I was nervous I wasn’t going to get to my destination on time,” said Shirley. “The attendant was very concerned and called to have the next plane delayed for half an hour so I could make it.”
Now age 71, last year was Shirley’s final year as a Be The Match courier. But this doesn’t stop her dedication to the cause. In recent months, Shirley raised money, held an online registry drive through Team Be The Match, helped Be The Match as an event day volunteer for the Be The Match Gala in Minneapolis and volunteers as a Be The Match Registry® member recruiter with a mission to “change the world.”
She started a Team Be The Match page as a part of a Landmark Leadership course, which requires her to take on a major project. She set an initial goal of raising $500 for Be The Match when she started her page. Prompted by a challenge from her Landmark course to make a “courageous decision,” she recently increased her goal to $5,000. So far, Shirley raised almost $1,500 in donations and isn’t done yet. “It’s important to support Be The Match because there’s such a great potential for saving lives, and for people to have healthy lives after transplants. It offers people hope.” Shirley said.
Learn more about Team Be The Match and share your story, asking for friends and family to support you, or you can help support Shirley. You can also help support our cause by finding volunteer opportunities near you.