Edinburg, TX — It is a match made in heaven, the UTPA baseball team joined forces with the women’s basketball team in hopes of saving a life. Reporter Roxanne Lerma explains in this week’s Newscenter 23 UTPA report.
Kacy Gardner was strolling through the library when she was approached about becoming a bone marrow donor. After hearing the information, Gardner quickly signed up and grabbed a swab kit, “Because you never know if you are that match. Whose to know that somebody that is not willing to do this just walking by, they could be that person that could be that match. And you could be the person to help save someone.”
Head baseball coach Manny Mantrana, teamed his athletes up with the women’s basketball program to host the second annual bone marrow drive, “We tell our guys being part of the program and being part of the university is a gift. In return for that gift they must give back to the community so what better way to give back than to save a life.”
Sophomore point guard Kaelynn Boyd was happy to take time out to sign up her classmates, “It’s just a good thing to come out here and do it just to get people involved, to get people here and to make sure that maybe if we get one of these people here they will be a match and they will be able to help someone out there in need.”
The push for bone marrow donors at UTPA has already proved successful. In the past couple years, three matches have been made, and three lives saved.
Larry Tidwell, UTPA Women’s Basketball Coach, “It’s the theory you’ve always got to give back and if you give back it’ll pay forward ten times and I’ve been with be the match program for seven years. Last year I was the state spokesperson for division 1 basketball.”
The bone marrow push was initially inspired by Nolan Naranjo, a Brownsville boy battling pre-leukemia. The Broncs stepped up to the plate to help Naranjo who is now well on the road to recovery. The team has now decided to grow that drive to save others.
Alexander Howe, UTPA Baseball, “That’s such a good thing, such a good thing we could help and just give back to the community. We’ve been blessed with the opportunity to come to Pan Am. The college has given us a lot to offer and we just want to give back.”
Melissa Elizondo, a consultant with the “Be the Match” registry, says the cure for cancer has to involve the younger generation, “It’s really important that we get the students involved, talking to each other about what they can do to help others because it is really important to get a lot of people onto the registry so that we can help find a match for each and every person that’s in need.”
According to Gardner, a few minutes and a simple swab are a small price to pay, “It’s a great feeling knowing that you could help save someone’s life. That’s an awesome feeling. This is why we joined the military. We are doing things to help others, so I feel like helping others is my main priority.”
After all, it is the season of giving. Reporting for UTPA and Newscenter 23, I’m Roxanne Lerma.
In the last drive, 250 people registered to become donors. This time, the UTPA basketball and baseball teams surpassed that number and signed up 344 new people to the nationwide registry.