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Thursday, Apr 18, 2024

Be The Match at Middlebury

The logo of "Be the Match."
The logo of "Be the Match."

Last Wednesday, May 3, the Middlebury football and field hockey teams ran a “Be The Match” event on campus. The first time football held the event in 2022, they registered over 500 students and won ‘Rookie of the Year,’ an award given to the Division 3 school with the most registrations in its first Be the Match Event. This year they joined forces with field hockey in an effort to repeat this success. Be The Match is a vital cause as it helps save the lives of people with life-threatening blood cancer. I chose to volunteer because I found that this organization provides an exceptional opportunity for individuals to make a significant impact on someone’s life. I think it is important that this event continues in future years and that athletics teams at Middlebury continue to use their platforms to promote this type of positive change. 

Be The Match is a national organization that works to provide blood cancer patients with diagnoses such as leukemia or lymphoma with fully matched donors for a blood stem cell or bone marrow transplant. Over 70% of patients don’t have a donor in their own family, so they depend on a donation to save their lives. The organization has facilitated over 120,000 transplants in the past 30 years, but there are still patients who need matches, and growing the registry of potential donors is vital. We held a donor registry drive in Axinn, where we cheek-swabbed participants to add them to the registry. After being added, participants may be contacted and asked to voluntarily donate if they are a match for someone in need of a transplant. 

Be the Match is not only a great cause, but also an incredibly unique opportunity to be able to single-handedly save someone’s life. Choosing to participate and be added to the registry is an act of generosity and bravery as the transplant process is not necessarily easy — but you have the chance to be someone’s only match for a transplant, their only hope for a cure. I chose to be added to the registry because I found the opportunity to potentially save someone’s life so special. In today's world, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the problems our society faces. From climate change to social inequality, it can be easy to feel like my individual actions don't matter in the grand scheme of things. However, when we take the time to engage in community service and support important causes, we can see firsthand the impact that even a small gesture can have.

Because of the importance of the organization, we worked in earnest to try to encourage students to register by advertising inside our heavily trafficked dining halls to spread the word. Players on both the field hockey and football teams firmly believe in using our teams’ platforms to create a tangible, positive impact within our community. By being part of varsity sports teams, we have access to a wide audience and can leverage our visibility to inspire others to take action. Our hope is that we can have a ripple effect, inspiring others to get involved and contribute to positive change in their own way.

Despite the rainy weather, the event was once again a success and we were able to add just under 200 donors to the registry this year. We hope to continue the event in years to come, and for our varsity teams, Middlebury organizations, and individuals to continue to have positive impacts on the community, both locally and beyond. 

Caroline Haggerty is a player on the Middlebury field hockey team and a member of the Class of 2024.5