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"Get in the Game. Save a Life." Football Partners with Be the Match.

April 1, 2014

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MACOMB, IL -- Members of the Western Illinois University Fighting Leathernecks football team are joining the national initiative, "Get in the Game. Save a Life." Sponsored by the Be the Match bone marrow donor registry program, the partnership with football teams across the nation is designed to increase the number of registered donors in the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP). On Friday, April 11, the Leathernecks squad, along with Western's Be the Match on Campus chapter, will host a bone marrow donor registry drive from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in the WIU Student Recreation Center Keeney and Colgate rooms (east entrance).

To become a part of the national bone marrow registry, an individual must register and then complete a simple test in which the inside of the mouth is swabbed and the DNA sample is entered into a registry. The drive is open to all campus and surrounding community members. While the WIU drive targets those donors who are between the ages 18-44, ages 45+ can still register for a $100 fee. According to, this is based on medical research that shows younger donors are best for patients and provide the greatest chance for transplant success. Diverse members are especially needed since patients will most likely find a match within their own race and ethnicity.

Be The Match Registry/Be the Match on Campus is operated by the NMDP, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating an opportunity for all patients to receive the marrow transplant they need, when they need it. It is the largest and most diverse donor registry in the world.

In 2013, Villanova Coach Andrew Talley, who has been hosting bone marrow registry drives for 22 years, partnered with 38 other football programs and as a result, recruited more than 9,000 new registry members. The goal of the 2014 "Get in the Game" initiative is 5,000 new registered donors.

"Leatherneck Football is excited to be among the many college programs nationally to partner with Be the Match for a 'Get in the Game' campaign. Diseases like leukemia have touched many of us and the need to build a larger base of potential donors for bone marrow transplants is great in our society," said Leatherneck Football Head Coach Bob Nielson. "Our student-athletes understand that they can play an important part by being a potential donor and encouraging others to be as well. It is my hope that the campus and local community will join our team on April 11 and 'Get in the Game and Save a Life.'"

According to Grant Severs, one of the co-founders of WIU's Be the Match chapter, a patient's likelihood of finding a matching donor on the Be The Match Registry is estimated to range from 66-93 percent. The first donor drive, held by the WIU chapter in November 2013, resulted in more than 200 individuals taking the "Be the Match" call to register as bone marrow donors.

"We are so appreciative that Coach Nielson wanted to get Western's football team involved in the national 'Get in the Game' initiative. I'm confident that the players' efforts will result in a successful drive on April 11," he added.

According to Be the Match, each year more than 12,000 patients are diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, such as leukemia, whose best hope for a cure is a marrow transplant. Patients who have no matching marrow donor within their family often turn to the Be the Match registry program. Through the efforts of 'Get in the Game. Save a Life,' players and others on colleges campuses across the nation can save the life of a patient in need of a marrow transplant.

"WIU is teaming up with the Be The Match foundation to spread awareness and to find people to be potential donors," said JJ Raffelson, a junior linebacker and 2014 co-captain. "We want our fellow students and others to help save a life and make a difference today."

In addition to registering as a bone marrow donor, individuals can text MATCH WIU to 50555 for a $10 donation for WIU's Be The Match on Campus to help fund the bone marrow drive.* Contributions may also be made at

For more information, visit

* Charges will appear on the user's wireless bill or will be deducted from the prepaid balance. All purchases must be authorized by the account holder. Must be 18 years of age or have parental permission to participate. Message and data rates may apply. Text STOP to 50555 to STOP. Text HELP to 50555 for HELP. Full terms and privacy: and

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Office of University Relations