Tuesday, September 14, 2004

I always find coincidences interesting. At work today I received a letter that included this:

the same day that I was asked to read an article that someone is writing about the people I work with that says this:

Quincy Jones, Spike Lee, rap star Nelly and concert artist Keiko Matsui have lent their voices. So have NASCAR greats Jeff Gordon, Terry Labonte and Scott Riggs.

Their message: Support the search. Become a donor. Save a life.

Their medium: Radio public service announcements.

Their goal: New marrow and blood cell donors, particularly from ethnic and racial groups, join the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) Registry.

Produced by XM Satellite Radio for the NMDP and The Marrow Foundation, the public service announcements are just one example of the power that a workplace partnership can bring to marrow donor recruitment.

To create the public service announcements, XM Satellite Radio, the nation's leading provider of satellite radio with well over 2 million subscribers, leverages its relationships with celebrities and its state-of-the-art recording studios. The compelling and often emotionally poignant spots are readily available to radio stations nationwide to download from a customized website, www.marrowpsa.com. Individuals, too, may download the PSAs and forward them to their local radio stations to promote donor drives.

In addition, XM Satellite Radio conducts donor drives among its own employees; actively encourages its business partners to appeal to their employees to join the Registry; and sponsors events to raise awareness of the important work of NMDP and The Marrow Foundation, such as the Unity Conference, which every four years brings together the nation’s minority journalists. These activities have met with significant success. A quarter of XM’s nearly 500 employees have joined the Registry, half of whom are of diverse backgrounds. And recently, the Delphi Corporation, XM’s largest manufacturing partner, has agreed to sponsor an employee donor drive.

For two XM Satellite Radio executives, President and Chief Executive Officer Hugh Panero and Director of Branding and Communications Allen Goldberg, the partnership is especially personal. Hugh’s wife, Mary Beth Durkin, successfully fought leukemia with an unrelated marrow transplant in June 2003, the search for which was facilitated by the NMDP. With good health and great joy, Mary Beth has just watched her children Liam and Sophia go off to second and sixth grades respectively.

Just before Allen joined XM Satellite Radio in early 2003, his seven year-old son, Henry, died from complications of graft-versus-host disease, two-and-a-half years after a bone marrow transplant. Their experiences, as well as Hugh’s membership on the board of The Marrow Foundation, inspire the company’s commitment.

“My goal is that XM plays a major role in bringing awareness to the NMDP,” says Hugh. “Our role should be to build awareness that the NMDP saves thousands of lives every year so that people can feel good about contributing to build a donor base or fund research to cure the blood diseases.

“There are a number of advancements on the horizon that promise to be very powerful – and they are advancements in which the NMDP and The Marrow Foundation can play strong roles. But one of the first big steps is building awareness of these two organizations. I think an entertainment company such as ours can help facilitate that.”

“Every company can make a difference in the Registry. Small businesses like ours can make an impact in just the same way that larger ones can,” says Chance Patterson, XM Satellite Radio’s Vice President, Corporate Affairs. “It’s pretty simple to do. You get the word out about the Registry, explain to people why it’s important and it sells itself.”

Because of his son’s illness, Allen and his wife had conducted a donor search through the NMDP. Joining XM Satellite Radio soon after Henry’s death and helping to produce the company’s public service campaign and attracting more donors to join the Registry helped buffer the pain of his loss.

“In only my first week at work I unexpectedly found myself sitting across a conference room table from representatives of The Marrow Foundation and NMDP,” he says. “I thought, ‘What an incredible opportunity for me to do something in my work that means so much to me in my personal life.’”

“My dream is that this partnership will save lives -- that we can bring hope to families who need it the most.”

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