Just two weeks after arriving on campus as a first-year student, Belk Scholar Matthew Schlerf '16 learned that his mother had been diagnosed with leukemia. Still processing the news, feeling very far from home and wondering what he could do to help, a chance encounter led Schlerf to his answer: Project Life, a student-run group that works with the national bone marrow registry group Be the Match, pairing blood cancer patients with potential donors.
He attended his first bone marrow drive where he met the local Be the Match coordinator, and went on to get certified as a volunteer ambassador–just weeks before his mother got her bone marrow transplant.
Like so many on campus, Schlerf's life has been touched by cancer and like many, Schlerf was moved to activism. On Wednesday, April 20, Schlerf and his Be the Match on Campus chapter co-president Abigail Gray '16 hosted a special event celebrating 25 years of student activism.
The event honored the thousands of Davidson College students who have joined the Be the Match registry over the last 25 years, many of whom have donated marrow or blood stem cells to aid in the treatment and cure of blood cancer patients. For thousands of patients with life-threatening diseases like leukemia and lymphoma, a marrow transplant is their only hope for a cure, and they depend on the registry to find a potential match.
At the event, which took place in the courtyard of the Baker-Watt Schience Complex from 4:30-6 p.m., Be the Match's Vice President of Donor Management Linda Abress and Chief Medical Officer Dennis Confer recognized current Davidson College students and alumni for their service. Special guests included former College President John Kuykendall '59 and alumnus David Lindsay '93, who was the original inspiration for the Project Life group (now an official chapter of Be the Match on Campus).
Be the Match is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn. and has 175 transplant centers of excellence, five of which are located in North Carolina and two of which are here in the Charlotte region. Be the Match on Campus is a student-run organization with nearly 100 chapters across the United States. The Davidson College chapter is active on campus as well as in the surrounding community.
For more information, visit BeTheMatch.org or call 1-800-MARROW-2.