Sep 4, 2014

Fresno football coach gets support from their opponent, Grant High

Football game is opportunity to raise awareness of killing disease.

Fresno’s Central High School Grizzlies will be fighting Sacramento’s powerhouse football team, the Grant High School Pacers.  But, there is much more on the line than just a win for Grizzlies Coach Justin Garza.  He is fighting for his life too.

Garza is a two-time cancer survivor and now the 38 year old is having to fight Hodgkin’s Lymphoma once again.  Unlike his previous two battles with the dreaded disease, this time he needs a bone marrow transplant and he is relying on finding a Latino donor.  Unfortunately, Latinos typically do not participate in donating, minimizing the survival chances of this coach, husband and father.

According the Sacramento’s Bloodsource and Be The Match registry, only ten percent of donors are Latino, making Garza’s challenge a major uphill battle especially since the likelihood of finding a match is higher when the donation comes from the same ethnic group.  As a result, many of Central’s games are featuring a matchmaking effort to not only find a match, but to encourage Latinos to become donors.

The Twin Rivers School District recently lost a student to leukemia, making the bone marrow drive personal for district superintendent Dr. Steven Martinez.

“This really hits close to home, and we intend to do everything we can to reach out to our diverse community and raise awareness about the donor process,” says Twin Rivers Superintendent Dr. Steven Martinez.  “Our goal is to host a community bone marrow drive at each of our high schools this year.  Joining the Be The Match registry is a simple process and only takes a few minutes.  We are hopeful that our outreach efforts will have a huge impact and increase the number of diverse life-saving bone marrow donors.”

Grant High School, through the Twin Rivers School District will be hosting a bone marrow drive on Friday, September 5, 2014, during the game between Central and Grant and are especially encouraging Latinos between the ages of 18 and 44 to show up and volunteer. 

The process requires filling out some forms and having the inside of the cheek swabbed.  Those found to be a match will be contacted for the possibility of becoming a donor.  The drive is being coordinated in conjunction with the Bloodsource and Be The Match.  Grant High School is located at 1400 Grand Ave, Sacramento, California and the event begins at 5:30 p.m.

To learn more about Coach Justin Garza, visit his Facebook page:

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