On May 23, 2010, Abby Marcus was a senior in high school when her school, Yeshiva University High School for Girls (“Central”), participated in the Salute to Israel Day Parade in New York. “I had heard that Gift of Life was holding a donor recruitment drive in the park for a patient from Long Island,” said Abby, “but I was only 17 and too young to join the registry.* Since I couldn’t swab, I volunteered to help with the drive.” That day, 995 people swabbed to join the registry, an incredibly successful drive that has resulted in 10 potentially lifesaving transplants to date.
After graduating, Abby went to study at Midreshet Moriah, a seminary in Israel. When Gift of Life held a donor drive there in October, she eagerly signed up to become a bone marrow or blood stem cell donor in the hopes of helping someone in need. “I hope that someday I can donate,” said Abby. “It’s not scary, I’m only focused on how I can make a difference and help someone. Signing up is all about leaving your comfort zone and caring for others.”
Fast forward eight years, and Abby is now a member of Gift of Life’s Young Professionals Committee in New York. These committees, now in six urban areas across the country, help organize events and fundraisers, as well as networking and social opportunities with peers.
A resident of Riverdale, N.Y., Abby enjoys running during her free time for exercise. When she saw an advertisement in February noting that registration for the Riverdale Y! Run had officially begun, she quickly signed up to run the 10k distance. “I knew I wanted to run for a cause and when I heard that a member of my community, Yossi, needed a bone marrow transplant and Gift of Life was helping him search for a donor, I immediately contacted Gift of Life so I could begin fundraising,” said Abby.
Seeing that the run was a great way to help someone in need while spreading the word about Gift of Life’s mission, Abby called on her family, friends and community to sponsor her run. By sharing information on social media and through a chain of emails, she raised $8,112.
The funds will be used to process swab kits submitted by new donors joining the registry. At $60 per kit processing fee, more than 135 donor kits will be tissue-typed to learn if they are a match for patients in need of a lifesaving transplant thanks in large part to Abby’s efforts.
An avid follower and supporter of Gift of Life, Abby noted that spreading the word about the vital work being done by Gift of Life is essential. “Not everyone is aware of the widespread impact of bone marrow transplants and what it entails to become a donor,” said Abby. With Gift of Life, it only takes a quick swab to join the registry,”
On May 6, alongside scores of other runners, Abby crossed the finished line. Though she accomplished a personal goal of legging out a 10k, she understood that her run helped the efforts of a far greater cause. With the race successfully completed, Abby is hoping to do more for Gift of Life in the future.
“You never know when you could get the call that you match someone and can save a life,” she said.
Abby is 25 years old and works as a compliance associate for an asset management firm.
*In most states, volunteers must be 18 years old to join the registry. Currently, 17-year-olds in New York and New Jersey may legally swab to join Gift of Life’s registry. Their kits are held for lab processing until they turn 18, then they are added to the worldwide registry.