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Olympic Gold Medalist Visits LCU to Promote Blood Cancer Awareness

On Wednesday Oct. 7, 2015, LCU welcomed Earl Young, 1960 Olympic gold medalist in the 4x400 meter relay, to campus to speak in chapel and promote awareness for blood cancer.

Kecia Jackson introduced Young, who brought his medal to show students. Young participated in the Olympics as a Sophomore at ACU, then-ACC, prior to graduating in 1962. At 19, he was the youngest U.S. track and field runner to bring home a gold.

During chapel, Young cited the two most defining times in his life: competing in and winning an event in the Rome 1960 Olympics, and being diagnosed with leukemia in 2011.

Though Young hadn’t felt ill, a check-up uncovered a surprising lack of blood cell production. More tests confirmed a diagnosis of an aggressive form of Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Young was given three months to live.

Young was told that a bone marrow transplant was the only cure and that obtaining one would lengthen his life. However, there was no guarantee that a match would be found. Of every 10 people who are diagnosed with blood cancer, only four people receive a bone marrow transplant.

Christine Waag in Offenberg, Germany registered as a donor because she felt “it was the right thing to do.” Her marrow was a match for Young and ultimately saved his life. Since his recovery, he hopes to raise awareness about blood cancer and donating bone marrow.

He created the Earl Young Team to encourage students at faith-based universities to register as bone marrow donors. Partnered with Delete Blood Cancer, they encourage unregistered donors to "swab a mouth, save a life."

Delete Blood Cancer set up donor booths outside the Moody, and in the SUB, Starbucks, and the Rec Center from 11:30 a.m. to 3p.m. on Wednesday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday for students to register as potential donors. The process involved swabbing the inside of each cheek for thirty seconds. President Perrin was the first to swab onstage at the end of chapel. Students shared images on Instagram using the hashtags #getyourswabon and #swabbieselfie.

Here are some pictures students shared as they registered as blood donors: