Sunday marks the tenth-annual Under Armour All-America Football Game that features more than 90 of the nation’s best high school football players. Three former Villanova football players – all of whom have donated bone marrow to a patient in need – are traveling to Orlando for the game and will attend player practices, skills drills and will have a chance to talk to the players. They will also be recognized during halftime to honor their life-saving donation.
C.J., Jacob, and Jake all joined Be The Match Registry® and within three months last year, they all donated to a patient in need.
It’s no coincidence that all three of these young men come from Villanova. The Wildcats’ head football coach, Andy Talley, is an avid supporter of Be The Match and co-created the organization’s “Get in the Game. Save a Life.” (GITG) initiative which encourages on-campus donor recruitment, largely supported by college athletes. More than 75 other college football programs have enlisted to participate in GITG which has led to nearly 71,000 new registry members, more than 300 of whom have matched with and donated to a patient in need. Talley is retiring after this season, but his commitment to getting more committed young donors on the registry remains strong.
“With a lot more time on my hands, I am looking forward to increasing awareness and recruiting a ton of coaches to join our Get in the Game initiative,” said Talley. “It is my dream to have every college football team nationwide host a drive and join our passion of saving lives.”
C.J., Jacob and Jake are excited to speak about their experience with the soon-to-be college athletes.
“When I joined I felt that I would be a match for someone,” says CJ. “I knew that there was a need to increase diversity of the registry and they were looking for Black or African American donors.” Overall, CJ is the sixth person who played for Talley to be a donor. And he’s the first African-American.
“The first time it really hit me about what was happening was when I asked a nurse what would have happened if I had decided not to donate,” says Jacob. “She told me that the patient wouldn’t have had a chance to survive and would have died.” Jacob was humbled. “The patient was literally going to receive a piece of me so that he could have a chance to live,” he says.
Jake says that the experience was life-changing. “It wasn’t hard and it is not painful!,” he says. “I encourage everyone to join the registry.”
The Under Armour All-America Football Game is the first of a series of sports-focused sponsorships Be The Match has planned in 2017, all in the hopes of getting committed young men to join the registry.
For more information about marrow donation, and the need for young men to join the registry, visit BeTheGuy.org.