Football Joins Bone Marrow Screening Project

PHILADELPHIA - The Penn football program will join the city’s two other Division I football programs as participants in the “First and Goal” campaign, to aid in recruiting potential donors in the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) Registry.

The Quakers will hold a bone marrow screening session on Sunday, April 13 from noon-3 p.m. at The Palestra. The team’s goal is to screen 1,000 people, with the football players serving as volunteers at the testing.

The screening involves a simple cheek swab and does not involve any needles or drawing of blood.

On any given day, more than 6,000 men, women and children are searching the NMDP Registry for a life-saving donor. These patients have leukemia, lymphoma, and other life-threatening diseases that can be treated by a bone marrow or cord blood transplant. For many of these patients, a transplant may be the best and only hope for a cure.

The “First and Goal” program began 17 years ago, when Villanova head coach Andy Talley was inspired to make a difference after reading about life-threatening blood disorders such as leukemia and lymphoma. Talley used that inspiration to raise more than $10,000 to determine the blood type of 200 potential donors. The veteran coach then enlisted the help of his Wildcat teams, which have produced more than 5,000 potential donors being entered into the NMDP Registry.

In addition to Penn and Temple, several of Villanova’s Colonial Athletic Association colleagues -- Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island -- have joined in with events around their spring games. The list of teams involved also includes Harvard and Wagner.

“I called them and asked them to get on board and join me in banding together to come up with 1,000 people to be tested,” said Talley. “All of the head coaches have committed. This is something that I have always wanted to do -- take it beyond the Villanova campus.”

In joining this ambitious project, Penn is partnering with the National Transplant Assistance Fund, Temple Hospital Bone Marrow Transplant Group, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to celebrate Temple’s 1,000 bone marrow transplants and the 25th anniversary of the National Transplant Assistance Fund.

For questions or more information on Sunday’s bone marrow screening process, please contact the Penn football office at 215-573-9229 or by emailing football@pobox.upenn.edu.

To learn more about bone marrow screening and transplants, please visit www.marrow.org or www.foxchasetemplebmt.org.