Students eagerly lined up outside of the Russell House Ballroom Wednesday to help support Delta Zeta’s Sweet Caroline Bone Marrow and Blood Donation Drive. The ladies of Delta Zeta — all uniformly wearing gray T-shirts to show support of their cause — cheerfully helped the crowds get to their correct locations.
The drive was held from noon to 6 p.m., and by 12:07 p.m. there was already an hourlong wait to donate blood.
Delta Zeta has hosted the drive every spring since 2005 in memory of member Caroline Terry. The drive started after Terry was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) in 2004. AML is a fast-acting cancer that hinders bone marrow’s role in developing new white blood cells.
Delta Zeta President Sara Leary led the drive with hopes of a turnout that mirrored those of the past. Leary said that when the first drive was held in 2005, Delta Zeta had the largest donation organization for bone marrow on campus. According to Leary, over 1,500 names have been added to the donor list since the first drive.
Although the ballroom was packed with students, faculty and community members who were eager to give, Leary explained that the group did not have a specific goal for the event.
“We mainly want to improve awareness,” Leary said, adding that all of the Delta Zeta members had added their names to the donor list. One Delta Zeta member was actually a lifesaving match for one man, as a result of one of the past drives.
The guest of honor at the drive was clearly that of Terry’s mother, Rebecca Skinner-Fulmer. Skinner-Fulmer sat at a table near the front of the ballroom, looking delighted at the event that was being held in honor of her daughter.
Skinner-Fulmer said that she can remember Terry being in remission at the hospital and saying that she only wanted two things. The first was to finish her undergraduate career at USC, and the second was to take a year off to travel and tell people about her experience and the importance of the registry. Her mother said, “If she were here, she would be elated.”
When Terry was still fighting her battle with leukemia, she was actually able to witness some of the benefits of the Delta Zeta drive. At least two people were matched from the drive while Caroline was still living, and her mother remembers her being “so excited.” Skinner-Fulmer said that she is touched that the girls of Delta Zeta continue to organize the drive, despite the fact that they have never met her daughter.
The bone marrow donation process at the drive was quick and simple for the donors. Volunteers just had to fill out some paperwork and do a quick cheek swab to be entered into the registry. Everyone who participated was rewarded with free food that included hoagies from Jimmy John’s and many other snacks.
Skinner-Fulmer was able to see the drive work in direct conjunction to her family when her husband, who participated in the first drive, was the match for a man who had a 3-percent chance of survival. Meeting for the first time on Saturday, she said “It was overwhelming to meet a man who was alive because Delta Zeta had a bone marrow drive because my daughter was sick.” Coming from the viewpoint of the mother, Skinner-Fulmer said it feels good to know her daughter left her mark.