Wittenberg's Phi Kappa Psi fraternity is hosting a bone marrow drive from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday, April 15, in the Benham-Pence Student Center. Fraternity President Matt Wigton, class of 2009 from Lancaster, Ohio, was moved to organize the event when he and his brothers recently learned of Blake's leukemia diagnosis and the LaForce family's inability to find a suitable bone marrow donor due to his mixed ancestry.
"The foundation of our fraternity is built on helping our brothers in need," Wigton said. "We really hope that this drive will bring more awareness to the cause of bone marrow donation. In our work with the drive, our fraternity members have learned a lot, and we hope pass on what we've learned to the rest of the university community.
"It is a cause that really pertains to college-age students, since they are prime potential donors."
Blake LaForce, whose father was a standout lineman on Wittenberg's 1973 national championship team and a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblast leukemia in November 2007, just weeks after finishing the football season at Butler High School in nearby Vandalia, Ohio.
The disease can be treated or cured with a bone marrow transplant, and healthy people between 18 and 60 years of age can become registered on national and worldwide donor registries. In hopes of identifying a match for Blake, the LaForce family has embarked on an awareness campaign to educate the public and register more donors, with a particular emphasis on individuals with diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. LaForce is one of more than 6,000 Americans in need of such a transplant, making the need for testing all the more acute.
"We won the first NCAA Division III Football National Championship at Wittenberg with a great Tiger team, and through team effort Blake will be victorious because he has many caring people from Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and Wittenberg University on his team," LaForce said. "When something like this invades your family you really appreciate your fraternity of brothers.
"This is an opportunity to give back and help more human beings and save lives, because someone on the registry today is helping Blake."
Written By: Ryan Maurer
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