On Sat. Aug. 15, residents of East Hanover stepped up to the plate at a softball tournament that doubled as a charity event to benefit the Be The Match national registry.
The softball tournament was a way for people to learn about donation, and register themselves, all while enjoying a popular sport on what turned out to be a beautiful Saturday morning in East Hanover’s Lurker Park. The softball tournament, held by the New Jersey Career Fire Chief’s Association, is an annual event, although their cause changes from year to year.
Eight teams played. It cost each team $1,000 to register, and each team also helped raise money that was donated to Be The Match. Donations are used to help grow the donor registry, assist patients financially, and fund important research. Overall, the tournament raised $8,000, according to Rebecca Kolas, a spokesperson for Be The Match.
The East Hanover Fire Department team, captained by Joe Sperli, raised $1,000. The East Hanover PBA, captained by Jesse Novalis, raised $1,000. The Fire Department of Jersey City, captained by Jason Greco, raised $225. The New Jersey State FMBA, captained by Tim Duecsch, raised $1,000. The Livingston Fire Department, captained by Dennis Britt, raised $1,000. The Newark Firefighter’s Union, captained by Charles West, raised $1,000. The New Jersey Career Fire Chiefs Association, captained by Bob Caruso, raised $1,000. The U.S.C.A., captained by Gerard Centanni, raised $1,000.
Each team set individual donation goals, an ideal amount of money that they hoped to raise by the end of the tournament. Every team was successful in fulfilling its goal. Donations were made mostly through a website created for the event.
The first pitch was thrown by five year old Delaney of Woodridge. Delaney was diagnosed with cancer at three months old, and is the president of Delany’s Clubhouse, a club for platelet donors at Community Blood Services. She and her family support other patients by hosting marrow and blood donation events.
Be The Match is a nationwide service that helps blood cancer patients find the bone marrow transplants they need. They also fund lifesaving research and help patients overcome the financial barriers that can arise due to the costs of bone marrow transplant. Representatives from Be The Match were present to help register new potential donors, and answer questions regarding the registration process. They also helped explain how to host a marrow and/or blood donation event.
Registering as a bone marrow donor is a long term commitment, explained Johannson, but it is often the only way to help those suffering from diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma, aplastic anemia, sickle cell anemia, and other serious illnesses. Approximately 70 percent of patients cannot find matches within their own families, and therefore must turn to the Be The Match registry in hopes of finding a donor.
“We work every day to save lives through transplant,” as stated on its website, found at https://bethematch.org. For the past 25 years, it has been the largest and most diverse bone marrow registry in the world.
“We only registered three new donors,” said Elise Johannson, a Be The Match representative who was present at the event. “We always have a great turnout, but at the end of the day education and awareness is our goal, and we succeeded in that.”