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At each MSP Mingle event, BE MSP seeks to highlight a local organization serving MSP’s diverse communities. More than just a chance to network with professionals of color from across the region, these events are also a strategic opportunity for attendees to hear impactful stories and to get connected to other efforts that share their interests and passions. At the May MSP Mingle event this spring, Be The Match® opened their bright campus in downtown Minneapolis as hosts to the community, bringing one of their very own with a story to tell.

A call for partnership

Every three minutes someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with a blood cancer. Only 30% of all patients who need a transplant are able to find a match within their family. The other 70% depend on Be The Match to locate unrelated donors or cord blood unit to save and improve their lives.

The chances of finding an available match, however, varies heavily across ethnic backgrounds. Because Be The Match’s strategic goal is to ensure a perfect match can be provided for every patient who is in need of a transplant, the organization has committed their mission to educating and motivating more individuals of diverse backgrounds to join the Registry.

This direct initiative to help save the lives of diverse populations across the U.S. is one that closely aligns with BE MSP, Make It. MSP.’s project to connect and empower professionals of color across MSP. Together, the two organizations decided to use the MSP Mingle networking series as an opportunity to partner help drive awareness of Be The Match and to recruit young donors from non-white ethnic backgrounds.

Stories that drive us

The data demonstrating the gaps between white and black or African American match probabilities are staggering, but stories are what truly resonate. At the MSP Mingle event, Be The Match took the opportunity to invite a man with powerful experience of his own, giving him the opportunity to share his story with a room full of connected and passionate professionals of color.

Brandyn Harvey spent the early years of his life dreaming of becoming a professional football player – which he did, playing several years in the NFL. He learned about Be The Match while in college when he and his teammates at Villanova organized a swab drive in the local community. The simple cheek swab took less than five minutes, but marked the start of a long and fulfilling journey for Brandyn.

Ten years after first taking the test, Brandyn received his first call of a match—a 1 in 80,000 chance. He wasn’t able to respond to this first call, but when we received his incredibly rare second match he knew it was an opportunity bigger than himself.

Today and after a successful bone marrow transplant that saved his match’s life, Brandyn is now a Multicultural Manager, National Growth for Be The Match. He works to reach young, diverse potential donors, spreading awareness of the high demand for diverse donors and breaking down the all too common myths that drive people away from joining the registry. Here are some of those messages Brandyn is helping spread across the U.S.:

  • Many individuals don’t realize that there is a cure for many blood cancers like lymphoma and leukemia as well as blood diseases like sickle cell anemia: a blood stem cell transplant. Be The Match helps provide the highly valuable blood stem cells donors to give patients a new chance at life.
  • Beginning their work more than 30 years ago, Be The Match® now manages the largest and most diverse marrow registry in the world.
  • NO BLOOD is required to be added to the registry. With a simple cheek swab individuals can be added with the opportunity to save a life should they match with a patient in need.

More Stories and Next Steps

Looking to hear more stories from patients and donors like Brandyn? Check out the inspiring videos below, and be sure to follow Be The Match on Facebook to learn more.

Want to get involved?

To learn more about BE MSP, get involved, and register for July’s upcoming MSP Mingle event, visit www.makeitmsp.org/bemsp.