Swabbing and WODing!

Prometheus CrossFit and Be the Match, together at last.

Prometheus CrossFit and Be the Match, together at last.

I’d been waiting for so long to use the phrase Swabbing and WODing and I forgot to use it on Saturday! Oh no!

Saturday was my first Swabbing and WODing day! I’ll have to make up for not using my clever slant rhyme on the day of by saying it over and over again here. Swabbing and WODing, Swabbing and WODing, Swabbing and WODing!

So what is Swabbing and WODing? It’s when a Be the Match bone marrow donor registration drive is held at a CrossFit gym!



wodding dec 13

And WODing!

Hence, we swab and we WOD (the verb form of Workout of the Day). I hope to see lots more Swabbing and WODing events in the future, and no better place to start than at our own Prometheus CrossFit. For a first attempt at hosting a Be the Match drive, I think we did pretty well! We got 24 new people in the registry and raised a few hundred dollars thanks to generous donations from both individuals and local businesses.

Coach Ben participates in an AMSAP - As Many Swabs As Possible

Coach Ben participates in an AMSAP – As Many Swabs As Possible

Everything ran pretty smoothly, despite my earnest effort to screw things up by forgetting to pick up the rental chairs the day before. Luckily, Sue was there! (How many times do I use that sentence each year? Probably at least ten.) She took the truck and made it to the rental place in Milpitas right when they opened and was back with plenty of time for us to set them up. As people trickled in, they went to our awesome volunteer from Be the Match, Marcia, who gave them their paperwork to fill out, and then instructed them on how to swab their cheeks. Meanwhile, we held open gym for our clients, so that they could use the time to catch up on any WODs they may had missed from the week or to work on their lifts.

Be the Match also sent us Carolyn, one of their nurses and herself a recent bone marrow donor, to speak to our gym about the donation process. It was fascinating to hear about what happens once you are determined to be a match for a patient, and I think we easily could have asked her questions for another hour if we didn’t have to start our WOD!

Another potential bone marrow donor!

Another potential bone marrow donor!

Meanwhile, Sue and Rose sold raffle tickets and incredible treats to add to our fundraising efforts. Sue has discovered how to make homemade fruit leather since someone unloaded a ridiculous amount of quince on her. With no added sugar, they were ideal for a CrossFit gym! Rose made absolutely decadent flourless chocolate cookies, while Beegle and Mark contributed classic all-sinful cupcakes.

Sue provided tables, picked up chairs, directed traffic, managed the sales table... what would anyone do without Sue?

Sue provided tables, picked up chairs, directed traffic, managed the sales table… what would anyone do without Sue?

When I first pictured hosting this drive, my only concern was getting people in the door and giving them the chance to register as potential bone marrow donors. I’m not so into fundraising. Of course, I get it, fundraising’s important and necessary. Everyone needs money. Money can do a lot, and it’s often the most efficient way for someone to help out. I was in the Peace Corps, I’ve seen how disastrous it can be to have a bunch of inexperienced, untrained people with good intentions run around trying to do good. You often want to tell them to stop screwing around and wasting everyone’s time and just give money to the people who can do the job better. I was in Thailand when everyone wanted to help the people of Burma when Cyclone Nargis hit in 2008, and everyone rushing to the border to help was actually not helpful at all. “Just send money!” was the cry from trained professionals who could get effective help out to the people who needed it. And so I listened. I gave money (though I admit I also did my part to assist a journalist who insisted on getting into Burma with water purification tablets and a camera.) I continue to give money to charities. My preferred charities are Foundation Beyond Belief and DonorsChoose.org.

So of course a bone marrow registration drive is also going to include some fundraising. Frances, my local Be the Match representative, asked me if we could do a raffle or a silent auction in order to help raise money. I was reluctant to get into the fundraising game, but I knew I had to. I tried to see it as an opportunity that I could give local businesses to get involved. Lots of businesses want to be associated with charity events, right?

On a side note, remember when everyone was crabby about the ALS ice bucket challenge?


Dump ice water on your head or donate! But didn’t everyone decide to just do both?

Yeah, talk about a major waste of resources. I mean, c’mon, if you’re going to run around doing wasteful, self-indulgent things that draw attention to the superfluous resources we have in the developed world, at least be honest about it and make sure no good can come from it. Feel free to put up a video of yourself on Youtube, but it better be 100% devoid of meaning, like maybe another video showing off our pampered pets eating better food than most of the world can afford, or maybe of Rolling Coal. If you donate to charity, do the right thing and keep it to yourself. Otherwise, it’s just “narcissism masked as altruism.” Let’s keep our narcissism pure, please.

Oh… whoops.

Hey, I love Tiny Hamsters as much as anyone. I myself have three rats that, as I described to my sister Cindy once when she was surprised at how friendly they

In loving memory of my first rats, Double and Helix.

In loving memory of my first rats, Double and Helix.

are, only know kisses, cuddles, and treats. These rats are exactly the same as those used as feeders for pet snakes or in laboratory experiments. I struggled with the dilemma of dropping hundreds of dollars in vet bills on my pet rats while thousands exactly like them are exterminated just for being pests. I agreed wholeheartedly when someone told me it was immoral to do such a thing; that money could be used to help a human being. But I did it anyway. I do not claim to live a perfectly waste-free, minimalist lifestyle. I indulge. I think we all do. And if our indulgences can sometimes at least include some thought and care for others, is that really something to smother and shame out of us?

So anyway, I made peace with the whole narcissism/altruism balance. I made peace with the action/money balance. And so I set out to see if I could drum up some local businesses to help me out by making some donations. And donate they did! Several businesses provided gift certificates that we were able to raffle off. We had a great raffle where people could choose which prizes to try to win. Prizes included gift certificates to Buffalo, Asian Box, BikeTeacher, Bronson Silva Cycles, and Yoga Belly. Yumi and Beegle personally donated a couple Amazon gift cards and excellent knee-high socks so popular in the CrossFit crowd. I used some of the excess money that people had given me when my bike was stolen to buy two tickets to Science of Cocktails at the Exploratorium, which I donated to the raffle. Is it telling of our gym that most people chose to bypass the yoga and bike offers in favor of cocktails? No matter, we raised money and had a lot of fun doing it, so I’m calling that a success!

Anyway, now that that’s taken care of, I’m feeling pretty confident about being able to do it again! Be the Match made the whole process pretty easy. It could have been better, sure. I guess I’ll always wish that I could get more people swabbed up. But with all the CrossFit gyms out there that I’ll be biking past next year, a decent Swabbing and WODing event every now and then can really add up to a lot of potential bone marrow donors!

Inspired to join the registry? You can find a drive near you, or you can order your own kit to be delivered to you! Just visit Be the Match’s site and decide which option is best for you.

signed up

Be more like Sue!


7 thoughts on “Swabbing and WODing!

    • hmm – I was rejected for being over 44. She may have said something about how i could still pay and register online but I couldn’t hear her over the buzzing in my ears – or see her due to my sudden blurred vision. “Rejected for being TOO OLD” – going to take a while to get over that one.


  1. ALSO while you’ve got all this energy going, find a way to sign up more mixed-race people such as ourselves! We have a really hard time finding suitable donors! It’s a real problem. May be enough of a reason for me to go ahead and pay the $100 to get on the registry…..


    • Well that’s why I’m trying to host drives and stuff here before I start taking off across the country! It seems a little silly to head off away from here, but since that’s the way I have to go in order to cross the country, I’ll try to do as much as I can before leaving.


Speak up!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s