Be Holden's Hero: Becoming a bone marrow donor

STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW)-- UW-Stevens Point football played their second game today, wearing different colors than usual.

Known as the "pink game," proceeds from this matchup are going towards organizations fighting cancer in central Wisconsin.

At Saturday's pink game for cancer awareness, UW-Stevens Point's chapter of "Be the Match" had registered almost 20 people to be bone marrow donors by halftime.

Be the Match is a national organization that gets people into the bone marrow registry in hopes of saving the life of someone sick.

"A stem cell or bone marrow transplant is their last or only hope for a cure after they've exhausted other treatments," said Jessica Klingberg, a community engagement specialist for the Community Blood Center.

Thousands of people are battling life-threatening blood cancers and need a genetically matched donor.

"It could be a 57-year-old woman with multiple myeloma, or it could be ten year old Holden here who needs a transplant,” said Klingberg.

Holden Zarda has a rare form of Leukemia.

"I’m looking for a perfect match," Zarda said.

Joining the bone marrow registry is much easier than one might think. You are asked to fill out a quick survey with basic medical history online, and then and then swab your cheek.

Most people in the registry never get called, but if you do…

"80 percent of our collections are just loike donating plasma or platelets. It's a one-time specialized blood collection," Klingberg said.

Worldwide, about 34 million people are part of the registry, but finding a match is not simple.

"Sixty percent of patients still cannot find a match," said Klingberg.

Meaning every person who registers could be that one to save someone's life.

"Wouldn't you love to see your product, see the fact that you got to watch that person grow up and turn into a doctor or a scientist," said Holden’s grandma, Deb Shannon.

You can register to be a donor by visiting this website.