For the 12,000-plus blood cancer patients in the United States, their only hope for a cure lies in the hands of transplant donors — often from outside the patient’s family. On July 26, Be the Match will host a Walk+Run event at Brown’s Island, inviting both donors and transplant patients suffering from diseases such as leukemia and lymphoma to come together.Be the Match strives to raise funds to support marrow transplant research, help patients with their treatment costs and build up the registry of volunteer donors.Be the Match Walk+Run events launched in 2011 in just three cities. This year, 17 cities are taking part, including Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Sacramento, Dallas, St. Louis and Philadelphia. “
Be the Match began connecting patients with unrelated donors in 1987 with a registry of just 10,000 volunteers,” says Dan Gariepy, a community engagement representative in Richmond. “The registry has grown to more than 11 million donors and 193,000 umbilical cord blood units, the largest and most racially and ethnically diverse registry of its kind in the world. Since we began operations in 1987, we have facilitated more than 61,000 transplants to give patients a second chance at life.”
Those interested can join the Be The Match Registry in person or online at BeTheMatch.org; there are age (18 to 44) and health requirements, and registrants must be willing to donate to any patient in need. Attendees at the Walk+Run event will also have a chance to register.
The opening program will begin at 8 a.m.; the Tot Trot will kick off at 8:20 a.m., followed by the 5K, which starts at 8:30 a.m. A closing ceremony, held after the Walk+Run, will conclude the day, during which one bone marrow recipient will meet his donor. “They have never met before and will be meeting in front of the race participants,” Gariepy says. “We are lucky to be a part of this special, emotional memory.”
To participate in the Walk+Run, register online at BeTheMatchWalkRun.org/Richmond, or in person at the event. It costs $30 to register online for the 5K, $15 for the 1K Youth race and $10 for the Tot Trot for children ages 5 and younger.