Contact: Rene Abadie
Date: February 7, 2013
SWABBIN' 4 ROBIN – Southeastern Louisiana University physics major Anthony Degioia of Baton Rouge swabs his cheek while volunteer Shannon Matadobra assists at a Swabbin' 4 Robin event held in the university's Student Union on Wednesday (Feb. 6). The event was held to recruit potential bone marrow donors for leukemia and other blood diseases. Swabbin' 4 Robin is named in honor of Good Morning America anchor and Southeastern graduate Robin Roberts who underwent a bone marrow transplant several months ago.
HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University students lined up Wednesday (Feb. 6) to sign up for a national bone marrow donor registry in honor of one of their most esteemed alumna, Robin Roberts, co-anchor of ABC-TV's Good Morning America.
Approximately 120 students and others filled out application forms and swabbed their mouths as part of the university's year-long effort to educate the public and recruit potential bone marrow donors for patients diagnosed with leukemia and other life-threatening diseases.
Student and faculty volunteers, cheerleaders, student-athletes and even Southeastern's lion mascot Roomie passed out literature and encouraged participants to be a part of "Swabbin' 4 Robin." The project is named in honor and support of Roberts, a Southeastern basketball star and 1983 graduate. Roberts underwent a bone marrow transplant several months ago to treat myelodysplastic syndrome, a disease also known as pre-leukemia. The "Swabbin" name refers to the DNA collection method that requires a simple painless cheek swab.
Approximately 120 individuals registered during the event, bringing Southeastern's total number of potential donors to nearly 425. Additional Swabbin' activities will be scheduled at athletic events throughout the spring.
During the event, a camera crew affiliated with ABC-TV filmed students and taped interviews to be used in an upcoming network special on Roberts' return to the Good Morning American team in the near future.
"It's exciting and makes us proud to see so many of our students joining this effort and showing their support for Robin," said Vice President for Advancement Wendy Lauderdale. "The fact that they are willing to be on a donor registry for a possible bone marrow transplant demonstrates their concern for others."
Nursing student Kaitlyn Hart of Walker was passing through the crowded Student Union mall when she was attracted to the activity.
"I wasn't aware this was going on," she said, "but when I saw this I wanted to sign up. I donate blood all the time, so I figured why not be a part of this."
"I have had several people in my family get sick with cancer and survive," commented freshman physics major Anthony Degioia of Baton Rouge. "They are big influences on my life. I thought, if this can help other people with cancer, then I want to do this."
After the swabs are collected, the information will be coded into the national database of potential donors maintained by Be the Match, the world's largest, most diverse registry of potential bone marrow donors.
According to Be the Match, more than 10,000 patients a year are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases such as leukemia. For many of these individuals, a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor may be their best hope for a cure.
Swabbin' 4 Robin includes a coalition of campus partners, including the Southeastern Foundation, Athletics Department, Student Government Association, Greek and other student organizations.