When Justin, a high school football coach from Fresno, Calif., learned his Hodgkin’s lymphoma relapsed for the second time, he was told he needed a marrow transplant to save his life. That’s when his childhood friend Tosha Guiffrida, Director of the Learning Center at Fresno State, rallied students and community members to help find Justin’s marrow match and raise transplant awareness.
Tosha and students at Fresno State, including Ari Cavazos, hosted drives on campus encouraging students to join the Be The Match Registry® on behalf of Justin. In only four months, Tosha, Ari and other community members added 2,200 people to the registry – including one Fresno State student who was called to donate marrow to a patient in need. It also wasn’t long after the Fresno State donor drives that Justin found a match of his own and received the marrow transplant he desperately needed to beat his lymphoma.
After Justin found his match, Tosha and Ari recognized the impact they could have on other patients suffering from blood cancers and other life-threatening blood diseases. They were inspired to find additional ways to spread the word about marrow donation. That’s when they learned about Be The Match On Campus®–Be The Match’s student-run organization with more than 100 chapters across the country. With Ari as chapter president and Tosha as the group advisor, the Fresno State Be The Match On Campus chapter was born.
Since the creation of the Fresno State chapter, Ari and other members have spent many hours educating students about Be The Match and the importance of the registry at campus events. At an event held last summer—the Fresno Fair—chapter representatives encouraged students to “get their swab on” to join the registry. Even “Jack Sparrow” joined in on the fun.
To date, the Fresno State Be The Match On Campus chapter has encouraged 144 students to make a life-saving commitment by joining the registry.