One hundred fifty seven people filled out forms, swabbed cheeks and received bone marrow donor cards at the first ever “Get in the Game” initiative for the Be the Match registry in the Adams Center on Tuesday.
University of Montana football players and coaches, as well as other athletes and participants from the athletic department, helped add potential bone marrow donors to the national registry, which aims to find bone marrow transplants for cancer patients with diseases like leukemia and lymphoma.
“I feel like it’s pretty much impossible to find anyone who hasn’t been affected by cancer in some way,” said safety and redshirt freshman Zach Gratton.
Trina Brajkovich, account executive of the National Marrow Donor Foundation, said the process of registering people was fast, and it not only saw students and staff participate but also citizens in the community as well.
Villanova University football head coach Andy Talley started the “Get in the Game” initiative in 2008. Since then, Talley continues to enlist the help of college football programs across the nation and called Montana head coach Mick Delaney to invite the Grizzlies to take part.
Delaney, whose late wife, Patsy, passed away from granulocytic leukemia in 1985, said hosting the event was an important opportunity.
“It was something right away I jumped on board and said I’ll do anything I possibly can to help this program,” Delaney said. “I think that anytime you have an opportunity to do something for somebody else it’s important, and this is a great opportunity to do thing that’s very positive from a standpoint for not only our football team, but our entire athletic and campus.”
The event ran from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on a walk-in basis in the north side of the Adams Center. All student-athletes involved in the event were added to the registry.
Senior defensive tackle Alex Bienneman said the event is one of many community service activities the Griz team is involved in.
“We’re doing this stuff because we want to give back to the community, not because of the reputation we’re trying to develop,” said Bienneman. “We’re all genuinely interested in this.”
Leading up to the event, players walked around campus with sign-up sheets, marketed on Facebook and even Instagram, to encourage more people to attend the event.
Brajkovich said the event was a good way to get younger people involved because individuals from the ages of 18-44 can register and are in the registry until they are 61.
“It’s extremely important,” said Brajkovich, who oversees bone marrow registry events in northern California, Utah and Montana. “It gets college kids involved.”
Delaney said he hopes to expand the registry across the campus and reach a wider audience.
“It’s something very popular and needed,” Delaney said. “It’s an easy way to do something good for other people that could save a life.”