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Penn State student, Thon child heads bone marrow drive

Four Diamonds child turned dancer Brady Lucas stretches his legs before standing for the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon in February at the Bryce Jordan Center. Lucas organized a bone marrow drive with Phi Kappa Sigma and the Student Nurses Association of Pennsylvania.
Four Diamonds child turned dancer Brady Lucas stretches his legs before standing for the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon in February at the Bryce Jordan Center. Lucas organized a bone marrow drive with Phi Kappa Sigma and the Student Nurses Association of Pennsylvania. Centre Daily Times, file

An upcoming bone marrow drive will help match donors through Be The Match to those in need of life-saving bone marrow transplants.

Penn State student and former Thon child Brady Lucas’ reason to organize it was because of a friend, one he lost too soon.

Lucas and Brandon Hohenadel were diagnosed with cancer when they were children and became friends at Penn State Children’s Hospital in Hershey. Hohenadel passed away on Oct. 11.

“We became close over our diagnosis and in our cancer journey,” Lucas said. “We got to know each other really well, and we were a support system for each other.”

Lucas got the idea to do a bone marrow drive when he spoke at a summer golf fundraiser that honored Hohenadel and benefited Brandon’s Battle Foundation, which provides goodie bags to patients.

He said a bone marrow transplant in 2014 allowed Hohenadel to live longer. Lucas also successfully received a bone marrow transplant from his brother.

Several months after the speech, a four-day-long bone marrow drive is set to take place on Penn State’s campus. The drive is co-sponsored by Phi Kappa Sigma and the Student Nurses’ Association of Pennsylvania.

The process for each donor takes only 15 minutes.

“A common misconception is that you get blood drawn, which isn’t the case,” Lucas said.

It’s as easy as filling out paperwork, committing as a donor, swabbing inside your cheek and dropping a confirmation card in a confidential box to be a registered donor. No social security number or driver’s license is required.

The drive will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and then 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday at Room 131 in the HUB-Robeson Center.

Lucas hopes there will a “huge” turnout.

The registry is searched more than 3,000 times a day by doctors, he said.

“Having more donors is huge for patients that need transplants,” Lucas said. “Some patients go through life without having a match, and we want to make it so there are more matches. There’s not a better place for that than Penn State where there’s already a groundswell of support for fighting cancer.”

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