Villanova's head football coach Andy Talley has long been a supporter of the national bone marrow registry. His on-campus registration program has helped raise awareness of the need for more registered bone-marrow donors and added over 52,000 new potential donors to the list over the last 23 years.
In September, Talley agreed to put his money where his mouth is, apparently. Pledging to match every gift made this month to the Be The Match registry, up to $100,000.00.
The coach has stepped up his support for the cause significantly in the last few years. After his 2009 National Championship and the national-media story of his star player, Matt Szczur's donation, gave him a bigger podium to speak from, he founded his own foundation -- the Andy Talley Bone Marrow Foundation -- and pushed to grow the registry efforts even further.
To help out Be The Match to reach the $100,000 goal this month, just head to the Be The Match website (BeTheMatchFoundation.org) and fill out the donation form with any amount.
Coach Talley's "Get in the Game" program has registered thousands of people at Villanova alone, often exceeding 500 per year, during its annual spring testing drive. The program has been active at Villanova since 1992, and has expanded annually as more and more football programs around the country take it upon themselves to participate.
Since it started, three Villanova football players have been matched with someone in need of a marrow donation. The most recent was Szczur, a recent call-up to the Chicago Cubs, whose donation became national news when the football team made a run to the national championship while the donation was pending.
Donations to the registry are important as each testing kit used in Talley's drives cost the organization $100, which has been paid for by Be The Match for most of the drive's existence. Raising money helps defray that cost and will allow the marrow testing drives to expand greatly.
"I'm their biggest guy in terms of getting bone marrow testing done. Nobody does more than me and that's how I want it. I could take it across the country, but the problem is that they don't have the money," Talley stated.
Each year, around 12,000 patients are diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening blood diseases. Though over 20 million people are registered as marrow donors, the process of matching a donor to a recipient is so difficult that there are currently only about 250 matches found each year -- a 1-in-80,000 chance that a registered donor will be a match.