2006 Bone Marrow Drive Raises More than $11.5K; Law Student Makes Good on His Pledge to Donate

When Bob Fay ’07, registered to be a bone marrow donor during William & Mary’s Alan Buzkin Memorial Bone Marrow Drive last year, he saw a chance to play an active role in someone’s battle against cancer.

“How often do you get to give something that so changes another’s life?” Fay said, adding that the free pizza and ice cream offered at the drive didn’t hurt.

And this spring, when Fay learned that his bone marrow was a match for someone suffering from AML (a type of leukemia), he didn’t hesitate to become a donor. Fay found himself hooked up to a centrifuge machine on April 14, and said donating stem cells while he studied legal ethics provided a “very healthy dose of perspective.”

Fay is one of over 10,000 registrants who have joined the National Marrow Donor Registry since the drive’s inception 15 years ago, making William & Mary’s the largest college bone marrow drive in the nation. This year’s drive, held April 12, netted 84 registrants at the Law School and more than 1,000 campuswide.

Although the college has held its drive for 15 years, the need to get involved hit home with law students in 1997, when Ali Kaplan, daughter of Associate Dean Rob Kaplan, died at age 12 of aplastic anemia. Since then the Law School has played a major part in the drive’s fundraising efforts, raising over $11,500 this year alone, said Josh Baker ’06, and Patrick Speice ’06, co-chairs of the Law School’s Bone Marrow Drive committee.

Fundraisers this year included: Ali’s Run, a 5K run/walk, and Ali H(oops), a free throw contest, both in memory of Ali Kaplan; a Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament; and raffle ticket and t-shirt sales. The wide variety of events, said Baker, helps appeal to as many different groups as possible each year.

“Ali’s Run is fun because it gets the community, faculty and students out together,” said Baker. “Every year we keep trying to add new things, and it’s just going to get better from here.”

Securing money donations is crucial for the drive, which pays registry costs of $65 per person so that students and community members who wish to register can do so for free.

“This is a very service-minded school,” said Speice, who added that a committee of about 25 law students and several very supportive faculty members spearheaded this year’s effort. “Whenever we needed help, we were never pressed to find it.”

According to the Bone Marrow Drive’s Web site, more than 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with fatal blood diseases each year. While many can be cured with a bone marrow or stem cell transplant, more than 70% of patients do not have a compatible donor in their immediate families and must seek the help of the registry.

“It’s a bit strange to think that some part of me is helping to make someone well again,” said Fay, who is only allowed anonymous contact with his recipient for the first year of his or her recovery. “But I’m certainly glad that I’ve gone through this, and I wouldn’t think twice about volunteering to do it again. You don’t get to do something as fulfilling very often.”