Columbus State to Host Bone Marrow Drive for Local Man

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State’s baseball squad will team up with the Be The Match Foundation on Nov. 15 to host Be The Match 4 Ben, a bone marrow drive that hopes to find a donor match for Ben Koon of Columbus.

 

Though not an alumnus, Koon has ties to CSU. His grandfather, Bob Koon, is a senior member of the CSU Foundation Board of Trustees, and his uncle, Keith Koon, works in CSU’s Plant Operations.

Ben’s brother, Brian Koon, a 2004 Columbus State business graduate, played baseball as a Cougar from 2000-2003 and was the starting right fielder on the 2002 CSU Division II National Championship team.

CSU baseball coach Greg Appleton said his friendship with the family led him to ask his team to host the event.

"It's something that hits home," Appleton said, "We know his family. We know Brian and Ben, and it’s a great cause that we'll support in every way we can."

Be The Match 4 Ben will run from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15 in CSU’s Lumpkin Center. The free test for a marrow match involves a simple swab of the cheek. Organizers will also ask for donations; it takes $100 to add someone to the national bone marrow registry.

Ben Koon, who played baseball and football at Pacelli High School, was awarded a baseball scholarship to Andrew College. In June 2005, at age 19, he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and immediately started aggressive chemotherapy. He went into remission and continued chemo for three years, until August 2008.

Koon was unable to play baseball at Andrew College due to his illness and began working at Triangle Wholesalers, a local beer distributor. While making a delivery last June 15, he became sick and was rushed to the hospital. He was diagnosed with a recurrence of leukemia and told his best hope for survival is a marrow transplant.

Participants in the Nov. 15 drive must be between ages 18-60 and be willing to donate to any patient in need. For a list of health guidelines that donors must meet, visit the National Marrow Donor Program at http://marrow.org.

For more on the local effort, visit http://BeTheMatchFoundation.org/goto/BenKoon or contact Rod Gunn at rgunn@nmdp.org or 770-330-1590. Another local marrow drive for Koon will be held Nov. 16 at St. Francis Hospital. Earlier drives were held this fall at Hughston Hospital and St. Luke United Methodist Church.

# # #