Famous Maroon Band hosts third annual Be The Match donation drive at MSU

For the third year, Mississippi State University’s Famous Maroon Band is among band programs from around the U.S. sponsoring a bone marrow registry drive as part of Minnesota nonprofit Be The Match’s “Banding Together” initiative. More than 88 MSU band and choral students recently added their names to the world’s largest and most diverse donor registry that supports patients battling life-threatening diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma and sickle cell disease. (Photo by Megan Bean)

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

STARKVILLE, Miss.— Throughout the academic year, Mississippi State’s Famous Maroon Band plays a major role in making the gameday atmosphere an exciting and entertaining environment for Bulldog fans of all ages.

During a recent band rehearsal on the Starkville campus, more than 88 band members represented their university in another special way by adding their names to the world’s largest and most diverse donor registry managed by Minneapolis, Minnesota-based nonprofit Be The Match.

Operated by the National Marrow Donor Program, Be The Match is a global leader in bone marrow transplantation. Its mission is to conduct research that improves transplant outcomes, as well as provide support and resources to patients battling life-threatening diseases, such as leukemia, lymphoma and sickle cell disease.

For the third year, the Famous Maroon Band is among band programs from around the U.S. that are sponsoring bone marrow registry drives as part of Be The Match’s “Banding Together” initiative. Organized by the Epsilon Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi, this year’s donation drive also saw participation from members of the university’s choral program, directed by Associate Professor of Music Gary Packwood.

“This membership drive provides an excellent way for students to volunteer and participate in something simple, but very meaningful that could help save someone’s life,” said Craig Aarhus, MSU associate director of bands. “I appreciate that our students see the value in helping others, and we plan to keep hosting a drive every year to give them that opportunity.”

Aarhus, who also serves as an MSU associate professor of music, said the recent Be The Match donation drive is one of several service-oriented projects that Famous Maroon Band members will be taking part in during the fall semester. Other activities include collecting a group donation for hurricane relief, participating in a canned food drive for the St. Joseph’s Food Pantry, and writing letters to patients at Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children in Jackson.

Tucker D. Haney, a senior business economics major from Forrest City, Arkansas, was matched to a patient in need after adding his name to the national bone marrow registry during the fall 2016 donation drive at MSU. After being matched, he underwent blood tests and received double injection shots in each arm every day for a five-day period in preparation for the actual donation.

“If I could help someone get back on their feet and experience a sense of normalcy again, I wanted to do it,” the four-year Famous Maroon Band tuba player said. “I was a little achy from the shots, but it was not that bad. I was out of school on a Thursday and able to come back the very next day.”

Haney said he appreciates the support he has received from his family and Be The Match throughout the donation process.

“I’ve been talking to a Be The Match representative who has been very good about giving me information,” he said. “If everything works out and the recipient is willing, I would like to meet her in a year after she receives the donation. As long as I’m a good match, I can donate again to help someone else.”

According to www.bethematch.org, a bone marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant can be a potentially life-saving treatment for more than 70 different diseases, including several blood cancers.

Mary LeSueur, account executive for the National Marrow Donor Program, may be contacted at 662-403-0091 or mlesueur@NMDP.ORG.

For more on the Famous Maroon Band, visit www.msuband.msstate.edu; MSU’s nationally accredited Department of Music at www.music.msstate.edu.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.