On Tuesday, Feb. 12, the Charlotte 49ers Student-Athlete Advisory Committee was involved in something kind of special. For most of the day, the rotunda of the Popp Martin Student Union housed a few people with the Project Life Movement and Gift of Life bone marrow and blood stem cell registry.
Just about 30 years ago, this movement began in order to help connect volunteer donors with patients whose only hope may have been a bone marrow transplant. Now, in 2019 there are a number of universities involved in helping further this goal, including Charlotte.
It’s simple. You get in line, you scan a QR code and download an app, fill out some information, swab your cheeks and then you get to meet Carolina Panthers Linebacker Luke Kuechly. Well, that last part isn’t really always the case, but it was for a lot of Charlotte students last week.
It really is that simple though, just for you to be put on the list as the potential to help save someone’s life. By registering, you are put on a list as a donor to be contacted when you may be able to give someone that gift but are not required to do so.
Many students who jumped in line when they saw Kuechly may not have known what they were getting in line for at first but a great deal of Charlotte students had a big impact last week, including quite a few 49ers student-athletes.
“This definitely is great for us, we love serving the community and love helping in any way that we can. This is surely a bonus and this is not something that usually comes along with it, but it’s also great. Outside of practice and outside of competition, this is a great way for us to get hands-on and really help the community and do something for a larger cause,” said Sydney Blue, Women’s Track & Field athlete.
The Charlotte 49ers SAAC is a group that helps to encourage a great relationship between administration and student-athletes by demonstrating their own concerns or ideas about University policies and discussing NCAA and Conference USA policies as well. But this group of student-athletes also participate in a lot of community service opportunities.
“It’s great for them to see that it’s not just about them being a student-athlete. Even your all-star football players are out here doing things in the community just so that they can use their name and their platform to get other people in a certain spot so that more people can know about other things that are going on within our country, our community. And it’s just a good example for them to see Luke out here doing that,” said Chris Everett, Director of Student-Athlete Development.
Kuechly was there for a reason, aside from students being able to get their picture with them. This Carolina Panther became an ambassador for the program several years ago and considering how simple it is to get on the registry, he believes people should really rally around the movement.
“I got involved a couple years ago and it’s one of those things where it’s easy to get on the list, and the list provides an opportunity to save lives. And we’ve had a couple dinners the past few years and every year at the dinner they bring somebody in that’s a recipient and they also have the donor at the dinner, and it really shows the powerful connection that one person can have with another person’s life,” said Kuechly. “You get out and you can help the community, it’s just a special thing.”