*Release Courtesy of UIC Athletic Communications
UIC softball's Karissa Frazier has been making a difference off the field this season as she is working with Gift of Life as a Campus Ambassador to aid in the #swab2save campaign and swab those interested in being added to the worldwide bone marrow registry.
"I love working with Gift of Life. I've gotten to witness one donor and recipient meeting and it was really touching to see. Everything that I get to do across campus, with UIC and different Horizon League teams, I feel like it's giving me somewhat of a purpose."
As a sophomore, Frazier swabbed to become a bone marrow donor after hearing of how a family friend had donated bone marrow twice to a woman with cancer, not only saving her life but allowing her to see her daughter get married and to meet her first grandchild. Frazier was so inspired by this story that when Gift of Life reached out regarding their Campus Ambassador Program, she jumped at the chance to apply.
Frazier began working with Gift of Life in the summer of 2016 and did her first event at the start of the 2016-17 school year. As a Campus Ambassador, she coordinates and runs Gift of Life Bone Marrow drives, where she and other volunteers, a majority of the time her teammates, recruit people to get on the Worldwide Bone Marrow Registry, which helps in finding matches (donors) for people who are battling blood disorders such as Leukemia and Lymphoma.
Less than a year since her first drive, Frazier has already surpassed her original goal of swabbing 500 people as she is currently around 600 fully-registered donors. She is additionally nearing her goal of swabbing 250 males, currently at 231, as men are three times more likely than women to be chosen as a match but sign up three times less frequently.
"It was amazing to reach my goal so early. Towards the beginning, I was nervous I wasn't going to make it. But Gift of Life helps by getting me involved with other community drives, so I wasn't just holding drives at UIC but across the city and in the suburbs."
Frazier has been able to accumulate an impressive number of donors with help right here at home from UIC Athletics as she has attended several home events, such as soccer, volleyball and basketball games, and swim meets. With a collection of student-athletes already swabbed, she aims to have every UIC sports team participate.
While a majority of the donors she has swabbed have been in relation to UIC and the Chicagoland area, Frazier is looking to expand her efforts across the Horizon League as she has set out a goal to swab every softball team as they either come to town or the Flames hit the road.
So far, she has had participation from every conference team she has encountered aside from Valparaiso, who swabbed as a team earlier in the year for another cause. She received full participation from Youngstown State, and even had fellow pitcher Paige Geanangel request 200 swab kits to hold a drive of her own.
"I hope I will spark a passion in someone and trigger them to get involved in things they are passionate about, and know they can use their platform to do good and spread awareness to the causes that are important to them."
For more information about Gift of Life, visit www.giftoflife.org. You can also follow UIC's Gift of Life chapter on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.