Football Team Hosts Bone Marrow Drive

By Emily Hung ’23, May 4, 2022

Campus community swabs to enter Be the Match registry.

“Do you have five minutes to spare and potentially save a life?”

Players from the Ithaca College football team partnered with Be the Match and the Andy Talley Bone Marrow Foundation to host a bone marrow drive in Emerson Suites on April 22.

Be the Match is an organization that conducts research to improve bone marrow transplant outcomes and provide support and resources for patients with life-threatening blood cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma.

Jake Villanueva ’22 volunteered for the team’s last bone marrow drive in 2019 prior to the pandemic. Now that the event is back, the team captain relished the chance to play a larger role. He walked around campus encouraging students, faculty, and staff to stop by Emerson Suites for a quick cheek swab that allows for a donor’s DNA to be added to the Be the Match Registry.

“My mom donated her kidney to somebody to save their life and that’s had a big impact on me,. The football team is a big team on campus, so being able to raise awareness of a cause like this and getting a lot of people to come out and support it is a big deal.”

Michael Roumes ’22

“I’m showing my face now and trying to get people to come here and sign up to do it,” he said. “What we’re doing here is we’re trying to make a difference. My message is that it doesn’t even have to be anything as big as this. You can do anything to make a difference in the world.”

And Villanueva, along with fellow captains Michael Roumes ’22 and Antwan Robinson ’22, weren’t just talking the talk. They were all swabbed as well.

“My mom donated her kidney to somebody to save their life and that’s had a big impact on me,” Roumes said. “The football team is a big team on campus, so being able to raise awareness of a cause like this and getting a lot of people to come out and support it is a big deal.”

Robinson also walked around campus encouraging people to register.

“I’ve had my encounter with cancer in terms of my family,” Robinson said. “So, any way I can give back to someone who may need help, I’m not going to hesitate to do it.”

Others in the IC community felt the same.

“I’ve never really seen anyone go through the process, but if I can be part of the process and help someone, then that’s pretty cool,” said Sara Brown ’23.

The team’s effort was a success, as almost 250 people stopped by Emerson Suites throughout the day to participate in the drive.

“We’re very visible, and we think it's a great opportunity to use our platform to drive numbers for this. We know ideally if you can register many people, you're giving yourself a chance to really have somebody who could be a match and potentially save somebody's life.”

Associate head coach Mike Hatcher

Associate head coach Mike Hatcher says the team knows they have a large presence within the campus community and took advantage of it, which he believes helped drive up the number of people who registered.

“We’re very visible, and we think it's a great opportunity to use our platform to drive numbers for this,” Hatcher said. “We know ideally if you can register many people, you're giving yourself a chance to really have somebody who could be a match and potentially save somebody's life.”

He also hopes the drive sparked an interest in players to continue to give back and help those around them, continuing the college’s strategic plan initiative of being a private college serving a public good.

“I think it's so great to see our program, our players and our staff having an opportunity to engage the campus outside of an athletics-driven event,” Hatcher said. “This is not about athletics at all. This is about helping somebody who's in need. People were writing why they participated in this — there are so many people whose families have been impacted by cancer.”