(Minneapolis, MN) — Oct. 05, 2023 — On Saturday, September 30, the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP)/Be The Match celebrated its 16th annual fundraising Gala at The Depot Minneapolis, an event dedicated to raising critical funds to support patients with life-threatening blood cancers and blood disorders. A remarkable $1.1 million was raised in one inspiring night. These funds go directly to providing patient assistance grants, pioneering research in the transplant field, and expanding the diversity of the Be The Match Registry®. In 2022, Be The Match Foundation provided $6.1 million in grants to 2,320 patients and their families in need of financial assistance.
“All of us at Be The Match are honored to witness the incredible impact made by our generous supporters who are helping more patients to receive a blood stem cell transplant, which for many is the best chance for a cure and more time with their loved ones,” said Joy King, Chief Advancement Officer of Be The Match and Executive Director of the Be The Match Foundation. “The funds we’ve raised will enable us to support and bring hope to patients and families during some of their most challenging moments.”
The evening was emceed by WCCO Radio host Jordana Green, a recent blood stem cell transplant recipient. The event’s premiere sponsors included ePlus and Hollstadt Consulting, while the honorary chairs for the evening were the Furlong Family of Austin, Texas.
Riley Furlong was just 8 years old when she was diagnosed with leukemia. Always a cheerful, spirited girl—even through leukemia and chemotherapy—her nickname has been “Smiley Riley.” In May 2018, Riley found her donor match and received her bone marrow transplant. Today she is 14 years old and is doing great. Ever since experiencing the impact of Be The Match, the Furlong Family continues to be steadfast supporters. What made their presence at the event even more special was the heartfelt meeting between Riley and her bone marrow donor, Ioan Seaward, who made the trip from his home in Wales.
“It’s so amazing to get the chance to meet Ioan,” said Riley. “I’m so grateful for what he did for me – giving me his bone marrow to save my life. It is the best gift I’ve ever been given.”
Bill Furlong, Riley’s dad, agrees. “I felt so humbled he (Ioan) had taken the time out of his busy life to have a surgical procedure to save our daughter’s life. When you think about what Be The Match stands for – it is the perfect intersection of science and love. Arguably the two defining characteristics of humanity. We are so proud to be a part of that mission.”
For more information about how the Be The Match Foundation is supporting patients in need and how you can get involved or make a financial contribution, visit: BeTheMatch.org/Gala.
About Be The Match Foundation®:
Be The Match® is a global leader working every day to save lives through cellular therapy. For people with life-threatening blood cancers—like leukemia and lymphoma—or other blood disorders like sickle cell, a cure exists. Be The Match connects patients with a matching donor for a life-saving blood stem cell transplant. Be The Match Foundation® raises funds to advance the Be The Match mission. With the public’s philanthropic efforts, the foundation is able to add more potential life-saving blood stem cell donors to the Be The Match Registry®; provide financial assistance to patients and families to overcome financial barriers before, during and after transplant; and fund groundbreaking cellular therapy research.