The Fresno State community will join the nationwide Be the Match campaign for Justin Garza, Central High School football coach and Fresno State alumnus, to educate the public about the National Marrow Registry Program.
A campus-wide blood and marrow drive Sept. 16-18 will seek 1,000 students and employees to join the registry and/or donate blood during the three-day drive.
Several blood drives and marrow registry events are being scheduled within the Central Valley in support of Garza, who was diagnosed in 2010 with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer that affects the body’s ability to fight infections.
An educational campaign and campus events in support of the drive are being planned, said Tosha Giuffrida, interim director of the Learning Center, who is working with the Be the Match for Justin Garza campaign.
Giuffrida said supporters in New Mexico, Connecticut, Sacramento, San Diego and North Carolina have joined the National Marrow Registry in Garza’s name and are encouraging others to do the same in their regions. Interested donors may also join online at www.join.bethematch.org/Justin.
Garza has undergone 36 chemotherapy treatments and received a stem-cell transplant in 2013, which allowed him to lead Central to a league championship. In his first year at Central, Garza led the team to 11 wins, the most wins in the program’s 90-year history, and reached the Division 1 section finals.
After a recent check-up, Garza learned that his previous treatments have been unsuccessful and now he needs a marrow transplant, inspiring the drive to help others in his situation.
“I have chosen to continue living my life with more of a purpose and as if I was completely healthy,” Garza said. “My family and my relationships are still of the utmost importance. The only difference is that I want to use this obstacle as an opportunity to help others.”
Giuffrida said ethnically diverse populations are encouraged to join the registry.
“Recipients have an increased chance of finding a match with someone of like ancestry,” Giuffrida said. “Less than 30 percent of the National Marrow Registry reflects donors of ethnically diverse backgrounds.”
The drive reflects Fresno State’s commitment to serving the community and fits its slogan of “discovery, diversity and distinction,” said Renee Delport, special events and projects coordinator of the university’s Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning, a cosponsor of the campus campaign.
Garza, a graduate of San Joaquin Memorial High School In Fresno, earned degrees in natural science and Chicano studies at Fresno State in 1997. He completed his teaching credential from Kremen School of Education in 1998 and a master’s degree in educational technology from National University.
He began his coaching career right after high school with the Pinedale Boys and Girls Club and in 1999 joined Central as an intern, teaching science and coaching football, golf and track. In 2005, Garza was hired as the head football coach at Reedley High School before becoming head coach and biology teacher at Sunnyside High School in 2010.
He has been named coach of the year at three different schools.
In 2014, Garza was recognized by the Kremen School of Education chapter of the Fresno State Alumni Association for his significant contributions and passion for education.
He and wife Regina are raising their 3-year-old son Joaquin and have another baby on the way. He is the eldest son of Dr. San Juan Garza and Josefina Herrera Garza of Fresno.
- Complete list of Central Valley blood drives and marrow registry events in support of Garza