Aug. 18, 2008
BERKELEY - The purpose of the University of California football team's annual Fan Appreciation Day is for the Golden Bears to have a chance to thank their tremendous fan base by signing autographs, posing for pictures and shaking hands. However, the 2008 event will have even more meaning as the Bears are coming together to support Michelle Maykin, a Cal graduate and season ticket holder who was diagnosed with leukemia in February of 2007. The event will run from 12-2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 23 at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley.
A true fan of the Golden Bears, Michelle, who even named her dog Marshawn after former Cal running back Marshawn Lynch, is in need of a bone marrow/stem cell transplant to help save her life. Her friends and family have been working throughout the summer on a campaign (www.projectmichelle.com) to register people onto the national bone marrow donor registry of the National Marrow Donor Program.
Members of the Cal football team, its coaching staff and the University athletic department staff will be registering to be potential donors at the marrow drive being held at Saturday's event. Staff from the Asian American Donor Program (part of the National Marrow Donor Program network) along with volunteers from Project Michelle will be present to register potential donors.
"We're proud to help out Saturday with this great cause," Cal football head coach Jeff Tedford said. "We work very hard out here playing football, but it puts a lot of things in perspective when you understand how hard Michelle is working and fighting for her life. I encourage all of the Cal fans out there to come out and support one of their own and register for the bone marrow donor registry."
It is very easy to join the National Marrow Donor Program Registry. Each potential donor simply completes a form and rubs four cotton swabs in their mouth - one in each corner - to provide a DNA sample for HLA tissue typing that will go in a national database. Patients who are in need of a bone marrow/stem cell transplant have their HLA tissue type compared with donors in the database to see any potential matching donors can be found. If there is a match, the marrow/stem cell donation process is often similar to giving platelets (through your peripheral blood). Donations can help save many people in need, most of whom are Leukemia and Lymphoma patients.
On any given day, there are over 6,000 people searching for a match. Nationally, out of the seven million registered donors, less than 25 percent are minorities. While Project Michelle encourages everyone to register, they desperately need minority donors. Since tissue types are inherited, patients in need of a bone marrow/stem cell transplant are most likely to match someone from the same ethnic background. As a result, it is much harder for anyone from a minority background with leukemia or other blood diseases to find a donor match.
Every year, over 30,000 people are diagnosed with a life-threatening blood disease treatable by a marrow/blood stem cell transplant, and according to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, every five minutes, someone is diagnosed with leukemia/lymphoma. Cal fans can be a big part of fighting these diseases and saving lives by signing up with the registry on Saturday.
To register, potential donors are asked to have their Driver's License or Social Security Number, and the contact information of 2 individuals not living with the donor.