Kristine Cooper, lab manager at The Memorial Hospital, holds up a Buccal Swab Kit used for DNA collection. TMH will be seeking people to register with the National Marrow Donor Program during The Wakonda Cup Fore Fat Cor golf tournament Saturday at Yampa Valley Golf Course.

Photo by Andy Bockelman

Kristine Cooper, lab manager at The Memorial Hospital, holds up a Buccal Swab Kit used for DNA collection. TMH will be seeking people to register with the National Marrow Donor Program during The Wakonda Cup Fore Fat Cor golf tournament Saturday at Yampa Valley Golf Course.

Bone marrow registry drive part of Craig's Cory Pike golf tourney

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If you go

What: The Wakonda Cup/Fore Fat Cor golf tournament

When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday

Where: Yampa Valley Golf Course

Registration is $100 per person and includes 18 holes, cart rental, prizes, a shirt or hat and dinner. Proceeds from the tournament will go toward a scholarship honoring the memory of Cory Pike, who died of lymphoma in 2009. This year’s also will include a registration drive by The Memorial Hospital as part of the National Marrow Donor Program. People interested in participating in the effort, which finds matches for patients across the country in need of bone marrow transplants, only need to be between the ages of 18 to 44 and get the inside of their cheek swabbed to collect DNA. Participants are asked to contribute to the lab costs, but it is optional. For more information on the tournament, call Dave Pike at 970-629-9061. For more information about the National Marrow Donor Program, visit www.bethematch.org.

— By picking up your golf clubs for some activity this weekend, you can help make a difference in the lives of people within the Craig community. But, just by sparing a few seconds to sign some paperwork and sticking a specialized cotton swab in your mouth, you could make an even bigger difference for someone on an even larger scale.

The Wakonda Cup golf tournament Saturday at Yampa Valley Golf Course will provide residents of Northwest Colorado the chance to contribute to multiple causes. Besides the tournament’s entry fee of $100 per person going toward the Cory Pike scholarship fund for another year of assisting area students in their academic endeavors, this year’s event features another element. Representatives from The Memorial Hospital will be on hand during the tournament to register interested participants in the National Marrow Donor Program.

Before you jump to conclusions thinking you’ll be jammed with a needle, the motto of the incentive is as follows: “It’s just a cheek swab.”

Lab technicians will use a Buccal Swab Kit to gently collect DNA from the mouths of willing participants ages 18 to 44. After that, the materials will then be processed and registered with the program.

“There’s a lot of testing for infections and determining the types of cells, and then once that’s in the registry, individuals who need a bone marrow transplant can see if they can find a match,” TMH Laboratory Manager Kristine Cooper said.

The Be the Match Registry contains the genetic information of about 10.5 million people and is a source of relief for people suffering from diseases like leukemia, whose network of possible bone marrow donors is extended with the program, allowing them to find a perfect match even with someone thousands of miles away. According to NMDP, 70 percent of patients in need of a marrow transplant do not have a donor within their family, roughly 12,000 people each year who need to look elsewhere for a match.

Additionally, those with “diverse ancestry” are encouraged to enroll in the program. Similar lineages can mean a better match between donor and recipient, and the Be the Match Registry currently consists of about two-thirds people with Caucasian heritage, or 7.1 million potential donors.

Cory Pike was one of those whose life could have been saved or at least extended by finding a donor.

“We never did manage to find a perfect match for him,” said his father, Dave. “That’s why it’s so important to have a wide variety of choices out there.”

Cory passed away at age 20 in November 2009 following a six-month struggle with Burkitt’s lymphoma. The beloved young man was a fixture of the Craig community during his time at Moffat County High School, a star in both football and track and field and a scholar at Colorado State University before being beset by illness.

This is the fourth year of The Wakonda Cup after being rechristened Fore Fat Cor, honoring Cory’s gridiron nickname. The Pike family first hosted a memorial golf tourney in Fort Collins in 2010 to celebrate Cory’s life and love of the outdoors before moving it to YVGC.

Proceeds from last year’s tournament raised $2,500 that went to local students.

The event has become one of the favorites of the year, with 18 foursomes already registered for the activities, which will include a full day on the links, complete with prizes and a dinner that evening.

Players are encouraged to dress in a Hawaiian island style.

“We want to keep things festive and light,” Dave said. “That’s what Cory would have liked.”

Andy Bockelman can be reached at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.

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