By Brittany Urick ’10
Last year, Princeton football co-captain Jordan Culbreath ’10 was named a unanimous first-team All-Ivy selection after rushing for 1,206 yards and scoring 11 touchdowns. But the Ancient Eight’s leading rusher was sidelined in September when he was diagnosed with aplastic anemia. On Dec. 15, equally impressive numbers were put up in Culbreath’s honor when 480 people attended a bone marrow drive co-hosted by Princeton Varsity Club and Be the Match at Frist Campus Center. The outpouring of support was inspiring, according to Caitlin Alev ’10, who spearheaded the event alongside Emily Tiernan ’10.
“We saw a huge turnout from Princeton students and from the Princeton athletics department, much more so than we had been expecting,” Alev said. “It was awesome to see so many students show up to support one of their classmates, and I’m sure that Jordan really appreciated seeing everyone at the drive. We also received a lot of inquiries from Princeton alumni who could not be present at the drive but who still wanted to help in some way, whether by signing up for the registry via the mail or by making a monetary contribution. It’s wonderful to see how far the Princeton family extends.”
Aplastic anemia is a condition where a person’s bone marrow cannot sufficiently replenish blood cells. It is a rare disease — only between 500 and 1,000 people develop it in the United States each year — and finding a donor match is often complicated. Raising awareness about the condition and increasing the size of the National Bone Marrow Registry is crucial, according to organizers, and the simple process of completing paperwork and submitting a cheek swab seems like a small sacrifice for the chance to save a life.
“I was very satisfied with how the drive went overall,” Tiernan said. “Even though the likelihood of matching Jordan is slim, there are now 480 more people in the registry thanks to the efforts of the Princeton community. If, out of this huge sample, only one life is saved, December 15 will still be the most meaningful 10 hours of my life thus far.”