February 10, 2011

Paying it Forward with the Ken Godfrey Marrow Drive Registry Event

Student-Athlete Donation Collectors
Student-Athlete Donation Collectors

MARQUETTE, Mich. -On October 18, 2010, Northern Michigan University Athletic Director Ken Godfrey was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.  This was a shock to the Godfrey family and the NMU community. Godfrey immediately underwent extensive testing and treatment to fight the cancer.  He was treated with multiple rounds of chemotherapy and is awaiting his pending bone marrow transplant scheduled to take place at the Mayo Clinic.

To help others and “pay it forward,” Godfrey and NMU teamed up with the Michigan Blood Marrow Foundation in hopes of assisting those who may face similar situations in the future.  On February 4-5, in conjunction with the NMU hockey games against Lake Superior State, NMU hosted the Kenneth Godfrey Marrow Drive Registry Event. The event featured nearly 100 student-athletes from the NMU athletic teams assisting individuals who wanted to help save a life in the registry event.  

Associate Director of NMU Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreational Sports, Brian Gaudreau, was the coordinator of the event and he couldn’t have been more pleased with the overall result from the events for Ken Godfrey. “The biggest thing about Friday and Saturday was that we conducted 130 tests and as of Monday afternoon, 97 of those tests were classified as certified for donation and not all 130 tests had been evaluated yet,” said Gaudreau. An additional 142 tests were conducted on Tuesday afternoon at the NMU Health Fair.

NMU was approached with the idea of the drive about a week before Christmas break, which didn’t leave much time for planning. Normally The MBMF will not allow groups to perform a drive like this with less than six months of preparation. Dr. Michelle Shields from the NMU Health Center and Gaudreau stepped right in and said they knew NMU could make this happen. “I spoke to the MBM Foundation and told them we could do this,” said Gaudreau. “We have so much support from our university and especially our student-athletes I knew we could make it work.”

With the fundraising aspect of the drive, the total number of donations is currently around $3,800. Gaudreau expects that number to increase as people continue to make donations through mBank. “Each test costs $180 to get registered and tested. Our goal was to fundraise $25 per test and we are going to continue our efforts until we reach that goal. We have already collected a good chunk of money to give back to support the registration and testing,” Gaudreau said.

It is safe to say that the Kenneth Godfrey Marrow Drive was a success. “The Mayo Clinic’s staff was very impressed with the efforts the NMU community has made in regards to the registry event,” said Godfrey.

The NMU registry drive team still has kits to conduct additional tests and is currently trying to find another local event before the semester is over to register additional potential donors. “This is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done, no doubt,” said Gaudreau. “To watch everyone come together the way they did I think really brought our department together and everyone supported us.”

For more information about Ken and his progress follow his blog that he updates regularly. The blog can be found online at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/kengodfrey. If you are interested in making a tax deductible donation to the registry event, please do so at:

Michigan Blood Marrow & Stem Cell Program
Care of: mBank
300 N. McClellan Ave.
Marquette MI, 49855.

By getting involved you too can have the power to save a life! 



Prepared By
Mike Levy
NMU Sports Information
906-227-2371