FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts
Andrew Keating, Director of Communications, 406.657.1104, media@rocky.edu

For RMC Students, Annual Bone Marrow Registration Drive is Personal

BILLINGS — Many young adults and children suffer from illnesses that can be helped or potentially cured through the donation of stem cells or bone marrow from willing donors.

On Thursday, November 16, 2017, Rocky Mountain College is hosting a registration drive in Fraley Lounge, located in the Bair Family Student Center on the RMC campus.

Donor registration is as simple as a cheek swab, and the process will be implemented by students from Rocky’s Master of Physician Assistant Studies program.

Overseeing the drive is senior Noah Oloff, for whom this drive has personal significance.

Oloff received a stem cell transplant on August 4, 2010, to treat his acute lymphoblastic leukemia. His sister, Esther, 15 years old at the time, was his donor. Oloff has been leukemia-free for four years.

“I wanted to do a drive because there is a lack of potential donors out there,” Oloff said. “I decided to work with DKMS because of their focus on colleges.”

Last year, while coordinating the first iteration of the registration drive, Oloff was recognized as the 2016 Volunteer of the Game by RMC President Robert Wilmouth and the Montana Commission on Community Service.

The first drive registered 45 new potential donors.

This year’s registration drive is especially meaningful: senior Marissa Van Atta, a business major and Battlin’ Bears basketball player who was recently diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, has been receiving treatment at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center at the University of Washington while awaiting a perfect-match bone marrow donor. Van Atta has no full-blood sibling, and her diagnosis makes finding a perfect match critically important.

The Van Atta family will be relying on the generosity of registered bone marrow donors.

“I wanted to be an advocate for people like Marissa, because I have been there,” Oloff added. “I know what it’s like to sit and wait for a match. It was only a month, but that month was hard.”

The women’s basketball program has taken up the cause, distributing green wristbands that read “Battlin’ for Van Atta.”

“It’s so much bigger than us and Rocky basketball,” Head Coach Wes Keller said. “This is about her fight right now.”

The registration drive will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., with all registration information being sent to DKMS, an international non-profit organization dedicated to the fight against blood cancer and blood disorders. DKMS will share the information with the National Bone Marrow Registry.

All members of the Billings community are encouraged to attend the registration drive.

For more information about the Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Donor Registration Drive, please contact RMC Chaplain Kim Woeste: chaplain@rocky.edu or 406.657.1098.

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