When Jay Beranek learned her brother had cancer, it hit like she’d run into a brick wall.
Her brother, who asked not to be named, is a military veteran, serving his country in the U.S. Army for decades, working as a drill sergeant and defending the country in battle; he’s a good husband, and a “hero to me and many others,” Beranek said.
It seemed nearly improbably that such a strong person could be laid low, but once Beranek knew, she couldn’t hold still.
“I needed to do something positive,” she said, smiling back tears.
As a dedicated member of the North Valley Eagles #4081, Beranek wanted to get involved. Doctors diagnosed her brother with Acute Myeloid Lymphoma on March 1, and not long after, Beranek decided to get involved with Be The Match, an organization operated by the National Bone Marrow Registry that hosts the largest and most diverse marrow registry in the world.
She knew her brother needed a bone marrow match for treatment, to go along with his chemotherapy treatments, and it couldn’t be her; Beranek is a cancer survivor herself. However, he did find a match through the registry, or as Beranek puts it, “this total stranger is giving my brother a chance at being cured.”
“I wanted to get people on the registry and take a positive approach to something bad,” she said. “I am now a certified volunteer ambassador.”
As such, Beranek organized Eagles Marrow May in Columbia Falls, not only to raise awareness for the bone marrow registry, but also to raise funds for her brother’s recovery process. The Eagles raises money each month for a good cause, and this month, the Wednesday Bingo proceeds and money from Steak Fry Night will go toward her brother and Be The Match.
There are also water jugs for change, which will go to Be The Match. Beranek is also selling awareness ribbons, bracelets, raffle tickets, and special items during Bingo to help with her brother’s unforeseen expenses, such as travel.
Bingo takes place Wednesdays at 7 p.m., and the Steak Fry is May 18 at 6:30 p.m.
Other ways to help are to visit www.BeTheMatch.org and learn about being a bone marrow donor. Prospective donors must be between the ages of 18 to 44.
A stranger could end up saving her brother’s life, Beranek said, and she asked that anyone who has been curious about the registry get more information, because their participation could save a life and help a family like hers.
For more information on the Eagles, visit www.facebook.com/northvalleyeagles4081. For more information on joining the National Bone Marrow Registry, visit join.bethematch.org/EaglesMarrowMay.