Villanova football head coach Andy Talley has long worked to register new donors for the Bone Marrow Registry. Marrow is one of the more difficult matches to find a donor for, and without sufficient numbers in the registry, it might even be impossible for some. The registry program at Villanova outgrew the Main Line campus a number of years ago with other college football teams across the country taking on the challenge along with Villanova every year.
Now, much like a number of his former players, Talley's "Get in the Game" program has gone pro.
New York Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, a Pennsylvanian who once coached at North Penn High School and whose father is the famous coach of Central Bucks HS West, wanted to run a marrow drive of his own — but he didn't know anything about it. Talley did, however, and Pettine was familiar with the Get in the Game program that became high-profile when star receiver Matt Szczur donated marrow to a young girl after winning the FCS National Championship.
So, earlier in the Spring, Pettine and Talley had a conversation about how to run a marrow drive.
Pettine was inspired bu a Jets fan named Michael Manganiello, who was diagnosed with "acute myelofibrosis," a disease that causes the bone marrow to scar and stop producing blood cells. Manganiello needs to quickly find a matching marrow donor to survive.
Pettine served as a co-host for the "Match for Michael" event held last night in Eatontown, which raised funds for the Manganiello family and the National Marrow Donor Program, but more importantly added more than 400 new people to the national bone marrow registry. Registering is as easy as taking a cheek swab, and bone marrow donation is now a less invasive procedure, the majority of the time being done via a non-surgical peripheral blood stem cell donation. Donors can usually resume normal activities within two to seven days.
Talley, who founded a non-profit organization two years ago to add donors to the national registry, gave Pettine advice on running such an event. Jets coach Rex Ryan and players Mark Sanchez, Sione Pouha and Aaron Maybin lent their support by attending the event last night, signing autographs and posing for pictures with the newly registered donors.
For more information on Andy Talley's bone marrow Foundation, go to TalleyBoneMarrow.org or call 610-401-7665. This year’s drive at Villanova was on Thursday, April 19, 2012 and reportedly added over 500 new names to the National Marrow Donor Registry.