News & Events

"You Got Swabbed" Hillel Campaign

Date: 11/13/2007

Two Miracles--One Day; Over One Thousand Students turn out at Historic Campus Marrow Drive while Alum Donates Marrow to a Baby

The “You Got Swabbed” campaign draws historic numbers to a bone marrow drive held on behalf of Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation on the campus of Syracuse University. In a continuation of the successful partnership between Gift of Life and Syracuse University Hillel, 1,123 students were registered by 150 student volunteers at 9 separate locations on November 1, 2007.

“Hillel is enormously proud of our partnership with the Gift of Life Foundation. Working with GOL enables Jewish students to truly understand the concept of “kol yisrael areivim zeh ba zeh,” “every Jew is responsible for one another.” We are thrilled that so many Hillels have taken this campaign to heart and have sponsored bone marrow screening drives. Syracuse Hillel is a model that we hope will be duplicated around the world,” said Wayne L. Firestone, President of Hillel, The Foundation for Jewish Life.

Lillian Baharestani, a Syracuse alum, brought the first Gift of Life donor drive to its campus in 2004. In an extraordinary turn of events, on the very day of the drive, Lillian was donating her bone marrow at a Gift of Life regional collection center for a baby in need of a transplant! In the spring following her drive at Syracuse, Lillian was asked to accept the recruitment award at Gift of Life’s annual Partners for Life gala along with Michelle Lackie, director, Weinberg Tzedek Hillel. Lillian said, “Never did I think my involvement with Gift of Life would be anything more then spreading the word about its vital work, but I did always secretly wish that I could be a lucky donor.” Now she is!

Helene Kahn, drive coordinator, was driven to succeed because her brother is a leukemia survivor. It is this, and her commitment to Gift of Life’s mission, which led her to achieve something beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. Gift of Life’s Recruitment Coordinator Shayne Pilpel was informed of the drive’s success through a birthday message on Facebook “Helen Kahn (Syracuse) wrote: happy birthday! your present is 1123 swabs! enjoy!” Helene and her co-coordinator Brian Small introduced the “You Got Swabbed” slogan as a take-off on the cotton swabs used to do tissue typing from potential bone marrow donors. They spread their message throughout the Syracuse community with posters, flyers and t-shirts proclaiming “You Got Swabbed.”

Brian Small said, “During the event there was an ever-growing sense of community.  All of the people that helped make this event happen began working together with an amazing synergy. The feeling was so palpable that, after filing their story, the camera-woman and reporter from the local media that covered the event, registered. They were caught up in the spirit of the event, like the rest of us. Obviously, we hope for a match from the Syracuse drive. But we are also very thankful for the opportunity Gift of Life created to bring together a community of caring individuals that accomplished something bigger, together, than they ever could have done individually.”


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