Be The Match® Celebrates One Thousand “Get in the Game” Life-Saving Donors!

Partnership between Be The Match and the Andy Talley Bone Marrow Foundation that engages student athletes and coaches has added 180,000 members to the national blood stem cell donor registry

MINNEAPOLIS, June 06, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Be The Match®, a global leader working to save lives through cellular therapy, today celebrates 1,000 blood stem cell or marrow donors through the “Get in the Game. Save a Life.” program. Created in partnership between Be The Match and the Andy Talley Bone Marrow Foundation, Get in the Game educates collegiate athletes and their peers about how a blood stem cell or marrow transplant from a healthy donor can cure people diagnosed with life-threatening blood cancers like leukemia and blood disorders including sickle cell disease.

“Athletes – whether professional or at the collegiate level – have a platform of influence that can help them serve as a catalyst for social change and health equity,” said Devin McCourty, former professional football player and Rutgers University graduate. “I applaud the athletic coaches and the college administrators who support character building through community service and advocacy, as demonstrated through the enormous success of the Get in the Game program. Congratulations to the coaches, teams, players and donors who have made this incredible milestone possible.”

Get in the Game was founded at Villanova in 2008 when College Hall of Fame Coach Andy Talley first learned about the need for young, healthy donors to join the Be The Match Registry to help save more patients’ lives. The program launched on nine college campuses, including Villanova, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale, with the schools’ football teams continuing to host registry events on campus for the past 15 years. The program has since grown to more than 325 college campuses across the country and recruited more than 180,000 potential donors to join the Be The Match Registry.

“It has been humbling to see students boldly step out on campus to encourage their peers to swab their cheek and join a registry of millions of donors who are willing to step up and donate their blood stem cells when they are identified as a match,” said Erica Jensen, Senior Vice President, Member Engagement, Enrollment & Experience for Be The Match. “Student athletes have a way of breaking through the noise more effectively than we could do without their assistance. Doctors agree that younger donors improve outcomes for patients going to transplant so we are pleased to see so many college students saying yes to donating, especially the athletes who understand the gravity of the gift they are going to give to a patient in need.”

Caden Cobb, 23, a running back and kick returner for the College of Idaho’s football team, was the 1,000th donor for Get in the Game. He joined the Yotes football team led by Head Coach Mike Moroski in the spring of 2021 following a two-year church mission trip to Brazil. He swabbed his cheek during a Get in the Game event held on campus in 2022. More than 390 students, many of them athletes, joined the Be The Match Registry at that event as a result of the combined efforts of the College of Idaho’s football team along with the men’s and women’s basketball and soccer teams.

Cobb was called in 2023 to be a donor for an unrelated patient who will remain anonymous until one year post-donation. Cobb and his wife flew to Washington, D.C. where he underwent a non-surgical process called peripheral blood stem cell donation at MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute. The donation lasted approximately five hours and resembled a plasma donation. His cells were hand-delivered to his recipient in an undisclosed hospital where the patient received the transfusion of healthy stem cells.

“If I was in need of a donor, I would hope someone would do the same for me,” Cobb said. “It was a very reverent feeling. I reflected on what I have been given in my life and felt that donating is a unique way to bless someone else’s life. It’s a small sacrifice and a good way to take the next step to help others.”

Cobb is one of 1,000 individuals who have gone on to donate blood stem cells or marrow as a result of the Get in the Game program. A blood stem cell transplant can cure or treat more than 75 different blood diseases. Only 30 percent of patients find a matching donor in their families, with the remaining 70 percent of patients relying on Be the Match and the kindness of strangers to find a life-saving donor from the worldwide registry of volunteer donors. Be The Match operates the most diverse registry in the world, but thousands of patients still do not have matching donors.

“My brother and I have advocated for sickle cell awareness for years because it’s a widely misunderstood genetic blood disorder that affects 1 in 365 African Americans and can lead to pain crises, stroke and early death,” said Jason McCourty, former professional football player and sickle cell awareness advocate. “The only cure for sickle cell disease is a transplant from a matching blood stem cell donor, and the efforts of the Get in The Game program are absolutely crucial to adding younger, more diverse donors to the Be The Match Registry to help save more lives and provide a chance at a cure for patients of all backgrounds.”

“We are grateful to college athletes across the country who have not only become donors but have encouraged their peers to do so as well,” said Mike London, a bone marrow donor, head football coach at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., and one of 20 college coaches who are part of the Get in the Game Coaches Council and actively work to expand the program. “We look forward to expanding the Get in the Game Program to hundreds more colleges and universities across the country as we build out this program with the end goal of giving someone a second chance at life.”

To see how coaches can get involved, or to learn more, visit Be The Match Get In the Game.

About Be The Match®
Be The Match® is a global leader working every day to save lives through cellular therapy. For people with life-threatening blood cancers—like leukemia and lymphoma—or other blood disorders like sickle cell, a cure exists. Be The Match connects patients with a matching donor for a life-saving blood stem cell transplant. The Be The Match Registry® is the most diverse registry in the world and includes both adult donors willing to donate to a stranger in need and stored cord blood units. In addition, Be The Match provides patients and their families one-on-one support, education, and guidance before, during and after transplant. Be The Match is also a global leader in research through the CIBMTR® (Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research®)—a collaboration with Medical College of Wisconsin, investing in and managing research studies that improve patient outcomes and advance the future of care.


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