Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

UWO unites in donation

Above: A nurse from the Community Blood Center checks on freshman Zackery Giese as he donates blood on Saturday.
[/media-credit] Above: A nurse from the Community Blood Center checks on freshman Zackery Giese as he donates blood on Saturday.

On Saturday, Feb. 11, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and the Oshkosh Community Blood Center teamed up to hold the UWO Titan Athletics Blood Drive.

This drive was in honor of Phoenix Bridegroom, the recipient of a bone marrow donation that UWO starting quarterback Brett Kasper was matched with in 2014.

The turnout was very important for the Community Blood Center, as their website says that every two seconds there is a person in the world who is in need of a blood donation for health reasons. While there was no recorded turnout for donations, the interest about the drive was buzzing around campus.

Athletes were encouraged to both donate and spread the word about the blood drive. The sign-up chart located in Kolf Sports Center was filled with athletes’ names, willing to donate blood in Phoenix’s cause. Kasper, as well as other UWO football players, had their names on the list for appointment times, willing to help the cause.

In total, 33 UWO athletes and students were signed up for appointments on the chart, but the numbers well exceeded that for the total turnout of donations. Kasper said athletes have a big role in drawing students to events, which is a huge factor in getting more turnout from the campus.

“It is important just getting involved,” Kasper said. “Obviously, we have a good advantage by being a part of a sports team, so we have a lot of numbers that we can draw from. So, to see the support coming out is great and everything little thing helps, which is awesome.”

The Community Blood Center has existed since 1955, maintaining their non-profit standing since day one. They provide blood to 17 hospitals in both the Michigan and Wisconsin areas, with 50,000 volunteers donating in just the last calendar year.

Appleton, Little Chute, Oshkosh and Woodruff all house the Blood Center’s donor centers in Wisconsin. Through their blood drive program, they operate five mobile blood units, the type that was here for this drive, and three indoor blood drives.

Another type of donation the Community Blood Center helps facilitate is drawing bone marrow to get more members on the registry for patients who are in need. Through both the Blood Center and the Be The Match registry, UWO became affiliated with the bone marrow cause.

In April of 2014, Head football coach Pat Cerroni was in contact with Kelli Vander Wielen, who is the Community Engagement Representative for the Oshkosh chapter of the Community Blood Center. Cerroni decided it was in the team’s best interest to become registry members, and more than 80 percent of the team ended up submitting samples for the registry.

The rest is history. Kasper was determined to be a match for young Phoenix Bridegroom, and after his donation, the required waiting period after donating and the eventual meeting between the two, Oshkosh became affiliated with the Community Blood Center and Be The Match.

The bond created between the UWO football team and the Bridegrooms has turned into backing from the entire University, especially with this most recent drive being in Phoenix’s honor. During her treatment so far, Phoenix has needed more than 100 blood-related products during her many procedures.

For this blood drive, the goal was to donate 35 pints of blood in Phoenix’s name, and junior wide receiver Sam Mentkowski said that this drive means much more because it is in Phoenix’s honor.

“A lot of people, when they hear blood drive, they do not really think anything of it,” Mentkowski said. “But when they hear that we are doing it for Phoenix, and since Phoenix is a big deal to our football team, they decide it is a good idea.”

In the last calendar year, UWO has seen an influx in campus events with community ties. Their yearly Feeding America food drive, a blood drive in Phoenix’s name and all of the emphasis put on the Be The Match involvement are just a few things UWO has done to emphasize a higher importance on branching out to the community.

Junior running back Dylan Hecker said that to be able to raise more awareness for causes like this is a great way to get more people involved.

“The more the better,” Hecker said. “The more we can raise awareness, the more people we can get here and they can bring more friends and family and they can bring more friends and family and it is a domino effect. The more people we get the better.”

Coach Cerroni has put more of an emphasis on both community involvement and volunteering in the past few years, especially with the connection the team formed with Phoenix and her parents. Kasper said any way for the team to help out the community is something they should take advantage of.

“Absolutely, any way we can give back to the community is obviously a bonus,” Kasper said. “Especially in a way like this, you see teams doing different volunteering events, whether it is Feeding America or [helping] any other organization like that, you really do not hear much about Be the Match or Community Blood Center. So, I think it is a great cause to get involved with and help volunteer.”

The Be The Match aspect of the Community Blood Center has gained more publicity than could have ever been imagined. Vander Wielen, back in November during the Kasper-Bridegroom press conference, said this program strives to assist situations like these involving Phoenix and they could not have more proud of this situation.

“Phoenix is the reason our program exists,” Vander Wielen said. “When the people in the community and the University can see a face with the people that receives these transplants, that helps us in so many ways, because it becomes real. People sign up then and know that they could be the match and help save somebodies life. It is so important and we are so grateful to be a part of this.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Advance-Titan Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest