Football Team to Host Bone Marrow Registry Drive

Head Football Coach Mick Caba and his team will host a Bone Marrow Registry Drive on Wednesday, April 7 in the Student Gathering Place of the Central Dining Hall. The drive will be held between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

When planning for this event, Caba was asked the question, why host a bone marrow registry drive. His passion for this cause is driven by an experience with a student back in 1973.

Below is Caba's story and reason for hosting the drive.

In the spring of 1973, as I was embarking on my journey as a teacher/educator at East Elementary School in Frankfort, KY, I soon learned that college does not prepare you for the all things you will experience. As a physical education teacher I watched every day as the first graders came to the gym full of energy, enthusiasm and excitement. Two adorable twin girls especially caught my attention, full of life and vibrancy. As the semester progressed I noticed one of the twins, Maria, seemed to become pale in color, and continually much weaker than her sister and her classmates. During a conference with Maria’s parents we learned that little, adorable Maria was terminally ill with leukemia. There was nothing that could be done for her. As the days passed and her condition worsened I not only felt completely helpless but also heartbroken for Maria, her sister and their parents. The college education I received for teaching didn’t prepare me for this. Shortly after the end of the school year, at 6 years old, little Maria lost her battle and tragically changed the lives of her family forever. I often asked myself “why couldn’t something be done, why couldn’t I help her.”

Flash forward to spring 2010 (at least it seems like a flash forward to me) I now have grandchildren of my own who are about the same age as Maria and they too go to the gym for PE every day, full of energy and youthful enthusiasm. Words can never express how grateful, how thankful to God I am that they are healthy, happy and full of life. But as the years have passed I have often thought about beautiful Maria and how haunted I’ve been by the helplessness I felt in that spring of 1973.

Should we have had the great advances in medical technology and medicine in general that we have today back in 1973 maybe Maria’s story would have a happy ending. Maybe we could have made a difference.

As I searched for ways to make a positive difference through the years I’ve since learned that Maria’s leukemia is now survivable, but the patient needs a bone marrow transplant. Every day over 6,000 patients are searching for a bone marrow match, but there are not enough people registered for the “Be the Match Registry Foundation. “I learned that there is a great need for people of every background to be donors but also alarmingly there is a tremendous need for registry members from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds especially people of African American, Native American, Asian, and Hispanic backgrounds, as the best possible match is likely to come from a person of the same background as the patient.

The process to be added to the registry is free, quick, easy and painless. On April 7th, just stop by fill out a questionnaire with contact information and some medical history, a quick mouth swap will be taken and you are registered for a chance to save a life.

Once registered you will stay in the Registry until you are 60 years old or you decide to be removed from the Registry. Should you ever become a possible match you will be notified. You may never be identified as a match. Your commitment to donate should you be a match is very important but you do have the right to change your mind. Also as a donor you never pay for donating and you are never paid to donate.

Coach Caba reminds us that "As you read this someone is dying because a bone marrow match could not be found. You can give them hope. In 1973 I could not make a difference for Maria so it is my hope that you help us take the first step to saving a life by joining the Marrow Registry.

For more information about the National Bone Marrow Donor Program visit www.bethematch.org.