BOULDER—Football’s off-season is a prime opportunity for coaches and players alike to shift their focus from the gridiron and towards its surrounding community that expends so much energy in supporting that team throughout the year.
Head coach Mike MacIntyre and his Colorado football team took advantage of that opportunity throughout the month of April, taking part in five separate charity efforts, concluding with the team’s participation in the second annual Be the Match Marrow Donor Registry Drive on Friday at Balch Fieldhouse.
“This is something we started doing when I was at San Jose State,” MacIntyre said. “We had a lot of players and a lot of students on the campus register for the event and we even had a couple of people come in that ended up saving a life. When I came to Colorado, I wanted to do the same thing. We did it here last year and three people ended up as matches and helped saved a life. I think it’s great for our young men to get out on campus and encourage people to participate.”
The “Be the Match” drive is an event that helps doctors locate and identify potential donors for patients who are in need of a marrow transplant. For various diseases, including many forms of leukemia, cancer and sickle-cell disease, marrow transplants are the only cure. Healthy adults ages 18-44 are encouraged to register though this event in order to create a field of potential donors for such patients. Volunteers were asked to fill out a short medical questionnaire and if they were deemed fit to contribute, would submit a saliva sample and walk away knowing they took a big step towards saving a life.
“We love doing this,” said Christian Snyder, Director of the Colorado Marrow Donor program. “It’s a great drive for us. It’s one of our biggest drives of the year especially for the Colorado and Wyoming area. This event really helps us meet our goals and helps us find donors. The fact that people from last year’s event actually donated to patients that really needed it means that the event is having an effect.”
The team spent the better part of their afternoon assisting the Bonfiis blood center employees, who organized the event.
“We all had jobs,” said sophomore quarterback Sefo Liufau. “Some people recruited individuals to come in and basically if they didn’t describe it to them as far as what they needed to do in order to register, then the rest of us had to explain it to them, hand out paper work and collect samples.”
In the end, the drive came short of its projected goal but that didn’t take away from the overall sentiment that the event was indeed a success for the second consecutive year. In all, nearly 300 people registered to become potential donors.
“The turnout was good,” said MacIntyre. “We had a lot of people come in and we have a good registry bank. The more people that we can get in the registry, the more we will have a chance to save a life and help in the battle with cancer.”
Earlier in the month, MacIntyre’s squad also devoted large portions of their time to what the coaches described as “leadership through service activity.” The team was divided into football family groups and participated at various functions across the front range including assisting young kids at the Frank Shorter Race 4 Kids Health, visiting the Children’s Hospital in Denver, distributing food at the Community Food Share, filing baskets at Broomfield Fish and giving presentations to students at Creekside Elementary on how they might reach their goals.
“I thought (the events) went really well,” said Liufau. “I got a chance to work the (Frank Shorter Race) and just seeing the smiles on the little kids’ faces when they crossed the finish line made me really happy. Community service is something that the whole team should do as much of as possible.”
Overall, MacIntyre was very enthusiastic about his team’s dedication throughout the month to giving back to the entire community.
“The team has really been committed throughout these events and I think they’ve really enjoyed it,” said MacIntyre. “They’ve done different things to help out and listening to them talk about how much fun they had is exciting. It kind of opens their eyes up to different things in life. I think it also helps them realize how blessed and fortunate they are too.”