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The UCF Challenge: Pledging to Save a Life

The UCF Challenge: Pledging to Save a Life

Throughout the month of April, fraternities, sororities and mentorship clubs at the University of Central Florida are challenging each other. Together with their brothers and sisters, they are pledging to “Save a Life” by joining the Be The Match bone marrow registry.


The Icla da Silva Foundation is the largest recruitment center for the Be The Match Registry. We add potential stem cell donors to the registry. A stem cell transplant is the only cure for rare diseases like Sickle Cell, and blood cancers like Leukemia and Lymphoma.

The difficulty lies in finding a donor who ‘matches’ the genetic makeup of a patient.

The Diversity Challenge

A challenge for the registry is consistently maintaining an active network of committed donors. This is especially true for donors who are ethnically diverse. Blood cancer patients from every ethnic minority are under-represented on the national registry. There simply aren’t enough diverse donors included on the registry.

We are working to change this.

A White patient has a 77% chance of finding a matching donor on the registry. But Hispanic patients only have a 46% chance. Asians have a 41% chance and African American patients only have a 23% chance of finding a matching donor. This means that 3 out of 4 Black patients may not survive their disease because they can’t find a matching donor.

The COVID-19 Challenge

There are (3) requirements for joining the national registry. We need to assure that you are: (1) healthy, (2) aged between 18 – 44, and that you are (3) committed to saying ‘”yes” if you match a patient in need. Meeting all three requirements represents the greatest chance for a successful transplant.

Historically, we have recruited potential donors at ‘live’ drives. We held these drives at university campuses across the country because it represented the best chance at meeting all three requirements.

Since the onset of COVID-19, all live drives have been cancelled.

But lives are at stake. Patients are still searching for a donor. We cannot stop adding committed donors. As a result, our recruitment has gone social. We are using social media to educate potential donors and keep the registry active.

The UCF Challenge

The following organizations at the University of Central Florida (UCF) are challenging their members, and each other, to Pledge to Save a Life throughout the month of April…and we are grateful.

Delta Epsilon Psi Fraternity
Asian Student Association at UCF
Delta Phi Omega Sorority
The Diversified Greek Council at UCF
Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority
Crown to Crown Girls Mentorship

These active and engaged students will be using their social media platforms to help us recruit more donors to the Be The Match registry. We will share their videos and activity on our social pages in the coming days and weeks.

Help them succeed in their efforts. Join the registry on their behalf.

pledge to save a life

Watch our Facebook page for the first video installment from the brothers of Delta Epsilon Psi at UCF.

Written by: Bret Itskowitch

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Icla da Silva Foundation Recognizes 23 Marrow Donors in Orlando, Florida

On February 22, 2020, the Icla da Silva Foundation brought our Mix & Match luncheon to Orlando, Florida for the first time. 

The Mix & Match events bring together cancer survivors, current patients in search of a match, and donors who have saved lives with a stem cell or bone marrow transplant. Our guests share stories, make new friends and talk about ways to support our mission of saving lives.

We were honored to host 106 attendees in Orlando and we were grateful for the opportunity to recognize 23 marrow donors. These donors joined the registry and said “yes” when they received a call telling them that they matched a patient in need.

Every single one of them should be proud they had the faith and courage to save a life.

We will be showcasing “quotes” from some of the attendees on our social pages in the upcoming weeks.

Of course, we are also extremely thankful to Be The Match for providing their support and ensuring a successful luncheon.

We look forward to holding more Mix & Match events in a city near you.

Are you interested in working with us? We are always looking for future fundraisers, recruitment drive hosts, and volunteers. Click the link below to review different ways you can Get Involved. Sometimes it’s as simple as making introductions and allowing us to leverage your contacts to reach more people who may be interested in saving lives.

get involved

Thanks for reading. Together we will save more lives.

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Teen Battling Leukemia Asks for Hispanic Community to Donate Bone Marrow – NBC DFW

Since April, 18-year-old Javier Guereca’s been dreaming of the day he’ll be told he’s matched with a bone marrow donor that can finally put an end to the leukemia he’s battled for a third of his life.

Guereca was first diagnosed at age 11. He’s spent more days in and out of the hospital than he can count, sometimes spending as long as two to three months there at a time.

Read more…

join the registry for javier

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Join Us for the Icla da Silva 2019 Hope Gala


BREAKING NEWS: On October 16th, 2019, the Icla da Silva Foundation will hold its 27th annual Hope Gala celebration. The event promises to be an extraordinary evening of dining and dancing while raising funds to support our mission.

Held annually, the Hope Gala celebrates the Foundation’s achievements for the year in fighting leukemia and other diseases treatable by bone marrow transplants. The evening’s highlight is an emotional first-time meeting between a former patient and their life-saving bone marrow donor.


Please join us, rsvp here:

RSVP for the Hope gala


This year, the Hope Gala is honoring Dr. Lawrence Itskowitch.  As a founding board member, Dr. Itskowitch has been with the Foundation since day one. He will share some of his experiences working with the foundation at its onset, and meeting Icla prior to her death from leukemia in 1992.


The Icla da Silva Foundation is extremely grateful to the Hope Gala Host Committee and Co-Chairs, Mrs. Tanae & Mr. Claudio Braz Ferro, and Mrs. Renata & Mr. Claudio Garcia.

Their gracious support enables us to move forward in our mission of both saving lives by recruiting bone marrow donors and providing support services to children and adults with leukemia and other diseases treatable by marrow transplants.

Join Us

We hope to see you on October 16th. RSVP today! Together we will save more lives.


About Icla da Silva
The Icla da Silva Foundation is the largest recruitment center for the Be The Match Registry in the United States. The Foundation recruits over 38,000 potential bone marrow donors every year, with a strong focus on minority communities.

The Icla da Silva Foundation was established in 1992, in memory of the 13-year-old Brazilian girl named Icla da Silva. After two years of fighting leukemia, Icla passed away in New York City, where she came hoping to get her life-saving treatment: a bone marrow transplant. The young girl never found a matching donor.

The mission of the Icla da Silva Foundation is to save lives by recruiting bone marrow donors and to provide support services to children and adults with leukemia and other diseases treatable by marrow transplants. The Icla da Silva Foundation is a nonprofit organization under section 501(c) 3 of the IRS Code.

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Shortage of Bone Marrow Donors a Health Challenge for Minority Communities – NBCNews

7-year-old Asaya Bullock has a rare immune system disease, and the only cure is a bone marrow transplant. His parents have been searching for five years with no luck and are trying to raise awareness and encourage more African-American donors. Out of some 10 million potential bone marrow donors in the U.S., fewer than 1 million are African-American.

View the segment on NBC News.

How can you help Asaya?

join the registry

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Lack of Black Donors Not Helping a Mother’s Search / NY Amsterdam News

Charlene Bullock remembers the first time she knew something was wrong with her seven-year-old son, Asaya.

Read the full story here.

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From: Go Latinos Magazine

It seems simple enough – HELP YOUR NEIGHBOR

Miami, Florida – The Homestead City Council, in the hometown of 7-year-old patient Julian Morales, passed a resolution encouraging residents to join the #BeTheMatch registry to see if they are a lifesaving match for their little neighbor.

You can join the registry on behalf of Julian here:

Save julian


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Celebrating National Marrow Awareness Month (Part 3 of 3)

National Marrow Awareness Month

Part 3 – Marrow Drives

(please click the links to read part 1, or part 2 of this 3 part series)

November’s Marrow Awareness Campaign encourages participants to spread both information and motivation wherever possible; and through whatever platforms become available.  Social media, fundraisers, community outreach and bone marrow drives are fantastic ways to stay involved in the details. Invite your friends to learn more and join the registry.  All channels raising awareness about the donation of bone marrow, blood stem cells and cord blood are valuable and encouraged.  It is all in the hope of saving many more lives around the world.

The opportunity to become a committed bone marrow donor has changed lives around the world.  It is not only the patient themselves who benefit, but also the donor as the realization hits about what is truly important in life.  One of bone marrow donation’s greatest proponents is a past donor whose entire perspective changed through the process of marrow donation.  Read about how Kala’s marrow donation brought her to where she is today.

Planning a bone marrow drive is not as complicated as it seems.  We are here to assist volunteers with a plan for successful drives in their communities.  All it takes is a bit of energy and heart.

Dare to Be Aware

Feeling inspired yet?  Why not try the following ideas and jump head long into National Marrow Awareness Month?


Find out more about becoming a registered bone marrow donor here.  It’s easy, painless and full of life-changing potential for you and your perfect match.


Be a mover and shaker in your local community.  Organize some fun and educational activities to build greater awareness around bone marrow donation and the donor registration process. Ask the Icla da Silva foundation how to set up a bone marrow drive in your community, workplace or school and go for it! Learn more here.


Tweet, post, blog, tag, hashtag, buzz and Instagram it!  The more you share on social media and other platforms, the more the public will hear about bone marrow donation.


Word of mouth has always been one of the most effective ways to spread the news.  So chat to family, friends and the guy on the subway platform about it.


Babies are a wonderful gift to the world; and they can give a gift back to the world themselves through umbilical cord blood donation.  Tell every expectant mother and father you know about the opportunity they have to save a life this way.


Give time and talent to bone marrow  organizations, registries, marrow drives and community education. Small acts of kindness and dedication are the building blocks for unshakable greatness. Learn more here.


Financial donations are highly appreciated. Generosity really can change the world. Make a donation here.

Dive into the festive spirit with us this November as we celebrate National Marrow Awareness Month.




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Celebrating National Marrow Awareness Month (Part 2 of 3)

National Marrow Awareness Month

Part 2 – Raise the Bar  

(to read part 1 of this 3 part series, click here)

Part of this month’s awareness campaign is re-education about common misconceptions regarding marrow donation and the transplantation procedures.  The fact is, 70% of patients are unable to find a suitable bone marrow match among their relatives.  Add the complicated family histories and genetic markers to the mix and minority groups have an especially difficult time finding a 100% bone marrow match, even with the help of large bone marrow donor registries.

Be the Match is a crucial link in this chain for the patients who require a match outside the family, and Ical da Silva is the largest recruiter of potential bone marrow donors to their registry.  Without these type of registries, finding a match may seem an insurmountable task for a family already under enormous strain with the illness of a loved one.  Additionally, registering as a potential donor is a simple, painless process.  A cheek swab places you in the pool of potential bone marrow or stem cell donors. Visit Be The Match Registry to start the registration process.

Even though donor registration is an easy step, there is still an immense number of patients around the world looking for bone marrow donation.  November is your chance to find out more about it and take a small step towards getting involved.  It is a wonderful gift to be able to offer a second chance to another living soul, especially when the odds of survival are set against them.  Finding a perfect match for a bone marrow transplant is incredibly difficult for people from minority groups, or with complicated heritage.




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Celebrating National Marrow Awareness Month (Part 1 of 3)

National Marrow Awareness Month

Part 1 – Why Bone Marrow?

Our team here at the Icla da Silva Foundation is ready for another month of dedicated service to those around the world in crucial need of bone marrow transplants.   It’s November, National Bone Marrow Awareness month, and this is part one of a three part series.

Why Bone Marrow?

Bone marrow is soft tissue on the bone interior.  The stem cells it houses are an essential part of producing enough healthy red blood cells.  It is also crucial for the production of lymphocytes, which support the body’s immune system.  

There are countless diseases and chronic illnesses which require a bone marrow transplantation.  Blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma are the most common, but by no means the only reason a person may require new bone marrow. Sickle cell anemia sufferers and patients with similar life-threatening diseases also rely on marrow donation. For some, the bone marrow transplant is required before any underlying condition can effectively be treated.

Donor Registries

The Icla da Silva Foundation fully supports this month’s National Marrow Awareness Campaign.  The foundation’s mission is to encourage all healthy individuals between the ages of 18 and 44 to register as potential bone marrow donors.  About 1 in 430 potential donors will actually donate, so your commitment to donating for a patient in need is obviously important.  Even if a potential donor waits years to be called, registering puts one in the privileged position of saving the life of a fellow human being.  There is nothing more special or worthy in this world.

Icla da Silva is the largest recruitment center for the Be The Match registry.  We work in close collaboration with Be The Match, the most diverse bone marrow registry in the world.  It operates to serve people around the world in search of their perfect marrow match.  The larger the pool of potential donors, the greater chance each patient has of finding that vital match they need.

Join the Registry

You can join the registry and become a life saving donor by using the following link here.




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