By: Kayla McCloud
Every three minutes, someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer like leukemia. Be The Match (BTM) is a non-profit National Marrow Donor Program that strives to save these patients’ lives to extend their life expectancy.
As an organization full of young, strong men, Sigma Alpha Epsilon is an ideal partner for Be The Match. Be The Match targets donors between 18 and 40 years old, as studies have shown that blood stem cells from younger donors provide better long-term survival rates for their patients. For this reason, SAE collegians and young alumni have the potential to make a major impact on the life of someone with a curable blood cancer just by swabbing their mouth.
Our chapter at Appalachian State University (North Carolina Epsilon) has built a great relationship with Be The Match. Carter McDowell (2024) was previously the chapter’s philanthropy and community service chairman and learned the true meaning of Be The Match through an encounter with Amanda Cooley, Account Manager and Donor Recruitment for Be The Match.
Last spring, Amanda visited campus in partnership with another fraternity. When she noticed an SAE chapter on campus, she stopped by the fraternity house to chat more in-depth about Be The Match and their collaboration with SAE. She explained the different ways to get involved and why getting the word out about their mission is important. Carter was immediately on board after this insightful discussion.
Since Be The Match engages the most people through tabling, Carter put together a tabling plan for the end of March. His vision was to set up a table in the Student Union where students gather the most. Once this was set in stone, the chapter staffed the table with five to ten brothers from 11 am to 4 pm. Most of the chapter brothers were in attendance for this new initiative.
Amanda was there to help since the chapter wasn’t too familiar with answering questions and guiding people through Be The Match information. It was a great learning experience for the chapter as they observed Amanda engage with the students. Since there wasn’t much time left in the semester, one day of tabling was the best the members could fit into their busy schedules. In total, they had 60 individuals register, which was a wonderful benchmark for the first time.
After their summer break, Carter was ready to pick up where he had left off. He wanted to go big for the chapter’s fall involvement, and of course, he planned to tie in Be The Match. He and Amanda had stayed in contact, making it easier for them to collaborate on another tabling event. This time, he wanted to schedule it over the course of a week. Carter also targeted a larger, more collaborative joint event in partnership with the marching band, Sigma Nu, and Kappa Alpha, as they had previously worked with Be The Match. This would be a great way to raise awareness for Be The Match and its mission.
Since four different organizations were involved, they each split across campus to set up their individual tabling locations; the dining hall, the library, the music building, and the quad. In addition to advertising the drive with flyers and social media graphics, the women of Kappa Delta and Zeta Tau Alpha joined the effort and contributed by supporting the drive through word of mouth. SAE also held a Zoom meeting a month before the week of events to explain Be The Match more in-depth and what the week of tabling would look like.
One week out from the joint collection drive, Amanda visited the four organizations to discuss how to complete a registry and the best ways to get people involved and generate excitement. A few days before launching this philanthropy initiative, informative sessions were hosted for anyone interested in learning more about what the organizations were doing with Be The Match. The brothers were extremely excited to see how far they had come with the planning process.
The SAE chapter set up camp on the quad, with great weather and steady student traffic. The tabling was scheduled from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm Monday through Thursday. Each brother volunteered at least four hours, consisting of one hour per day. There were a total of ten brothers at all times running the table.
Carter and Amanda discussed setting a goal across all four organizations of how many participants they could get registered. The target was set for 600. As an incentive to hit the challenge goal, Amanda agreed to jump into the campus duck pond if the number was reached. Knowing how cold and gross, that would be motivated everyone a little more.
By the end of the week, the marching band, Sigma Nu, Kappa Alpha, and SAE had roughly registered about 670 individuals. This blew their expectations out of the park and proved Amanda had no choice but to stick to her promise. SAE raised the bar with their community service hours, hitting 168 hours between the 42 chapter brothers overall. As the chapter reflected, it is safe to say this was a successful week.
Shortly after the week-long drive concluded, the members of North Carolina Epsilon came together for a brotherhood event to celebrate the great things the chapter accomplished. They also celebrated with a joint event with Kappa Alpha. They pulled some strings and got Will Easter, a musician and Boone, North Carolina resident, to play for them.
Carter McDowell enjoyed his position in his chapter so much that he wanted to stay involved in a similar aspect and now serves on the IFC Board as the Vice President of Community Relations. He knew going into his term he wanted to get all 16 fraternities involved with Be The Match. This spring, they kicked off this goal with more tabling with the help of each fraternity. With that push from Carter, across all 16 IFC fraternities, they have registered more than 700 students. This is an incredible number that Be The Match is super impressed with. They are excited to see what is in store for the fall semester.