By RACHEL GIESEL
A collaboration between Hillel, the football team, pre-health club and the homecoming committee will bring Allegheny’s first ever bone marrow drive to Robertson complex during Saturday’s homecoming game.
During the drive, willing participants will perform a quick cheek swab which determines a person’s eligibility for donation. Once processed, the donor is put into a database where he or she could be called at any time.
“It’s going to be a table midway between the concession stand and the ticket booth,” said Hillel President Kerry Bornstein, who came up with the idea for the event. “It shouldn’t take long, a couple minutes just to read over the form and swab your own cheek. And you’re in the database.”
The Gift of Life organization donates bone marrow to cancer patients. By bringing the organization to campus on homecoming weekend, Hillel hopes to promote deeper awareness of the world by helping those in need.
Hillel advisor Rachel Dingman said deciding to host the drive during homecoming was essential to achieve the largest amount of involvement and to unite the community during an event.
“We thought we’d see a really great volume of students and even maybe some alumni,” Dingman said. “… In my time at Allegheny I’ve just seen that the homecoming games [were] one of the events that really brings the whole campus together.”
Bornstein said she knew she wanted to bring this organization to campus after observing the impact of the experience through her father. After receiving information about a bone marrow drive through her youth group in synagogue, she shared the news of a local drive with her dad. He participated in the drive and donated his cells ten years later.
“It was right after I had finished my first year of college they had called him and he was a match,” Bornstein said. “It was successful and then we met [his recipient…] I learned more about the organization through that and I later learned through my research that they do a lot of college campus drives.”
Head Football Coach Mark Matlak said after speaking with Bornstein and Dingman, he was excited to feature the drive at the homecoming game. He said he feels it provides a way to promote the organization, the drive and the team. Allegheny is the only Division III school in the country with a game featured on Fox College Sports national television this week, making the team and the drive extremely visible to the public.
“I think it gives the group and the drive some positive exposure in the venue of a game,” Matlak said.
Matlak said he’s never held an event like this at a football game before but is enthusiastic about hosting something that gives back to the community.
“I think Allegheny has been a very community service-oriented campus,” he said. “And I think sometimes in athletics we get caught up in the contests and the games. I know myself, I do. I think it’s a good time to give back and reflect. And maybe help somebody down the road.”
The football team has been involved with community service in some way every year. By branching out and including this drive, Matlak said he’s having his players participate by either donating bone marrow or purchasing raffle tickets that cover the $54 processing fee for the swab kits.
Dingman said the raffle makes it possible for anyone to help out the cause, whether or not they’re comfortable with donating.
In addition to helping cancer patients, the drive intends to raise awareness of bone marrow donation within the Allegheny community. Gabriella Tetelman, social action chair of Hillel, said she hopes students understand that they can make a difference in people’s lives.
“I hope that they can see that even though they are [young] that they can have a huge impact on one person’s life at such a young age,” Tetelman said. “And even though they may never be called to donate bone marrow or be contacted in general, they are still taking that chance and putting themselves out there.”
The drive will be another aspect of homecoming weekend that promotes school-spirit while helping out a cause to save lives. Dingman said she is eager to host the event.
“We’re taking something that’s so school-spirited, something like homecoming, where everyone is just proud to be an Allegheny student and we’re adding that extra layer,” she said. “Not only are we proud to be part of the Allegheny community, but we’re proud to be part of a larger community.”