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Lakeland College senior Brittany Bohm is on a personal crusade that is motivating the college community.
Bohm is working with the national organization Be the Match to encourage people to register to become a bone marrow donor. The first drive is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 19, from 1-7 p.m. in the Wehr Center, and the public is invited to attend.
Bohm is driven by the memory of her late boyfriend, Chad Johnson, a Lakeland student who died of leukemia on Feb. 22, 2012. Johnson was diagnosed and began chemotherapy in May of 2011, but by August the cancer was more aggressive than the treatments could contain and he was told he needed a bone marrow transplant. The cancer never went into remission, making the transplant impossible.
"Chad was 25 when he was diagnosed," Bohm said. "I'm 23, and when I'm 25 I want to be a college graduate with an awesome job, married and starting a family. The only thing Chad wanted was to get a bone marrow transplant.
"His dream has become my dream. It's the dream of all these people in need of a transplant, and I want to do whatever I can to help them."
Bohm has mobilized a group of Lakeland employees and students to help spread the word of this month's bone marrow drives. She's speaking to dozens of classes, clubs and student organizations and is using social media to educate people about bone marrow transfers and motivate them to add their name to the national register. Her efforts were featured on WISN 12 in Milwaukee and by The Sheboygan Press.
A second drive for Lakeland employees and students is planned for Tuesday, Jan. 29, from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. in Bossard Hall.
People age 18-61 can sign up on the bone marrow registry by filling out medical paperwork and having a mouth/cheek swab done.
"Out of millions of people on the bone marrow registry, there were only five matches for Chad," Bohm said. "That's why we're holding these drives, to get more names on the registry so people who need these life-saving transfers have more options. A great way to honor Chad and the others who have passed away is by saying that you'll sign up to maybe one day save someone's life."