Justin Van Baalen was a champion swimmer for Laramie High School. As a student at the
University of Wyoming, the strong, athletic, successful Van Baalen learned how fragile the body can be. He was diagnosed with blood cancer.

Van Baalen’s siblings, Gwen and Jacob Van Baalen, were determined to do something to help their older brother. With the assistance of family friend Amy Jenkins, Gwen and Jacob have set up a bone marrow stem cell donor drive that will be Friday at the United Presbyterian Church on 11th and Grand from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.

It’s no more painful than giving blood. The procedure is simple, especially in light of the fact that you’re saving someone’s life while you’re doing it.

A myth about bone marrow donation is that the process is excruciating. The donor drive is simply to get people signed up for the national registry and requires a small blood draw. Once someone on the registry matches a person with cancer, the donation itself isn’t particularly painful either, Becky Lewis, bone marrow transplant recipient and member the board of directors for the national marrow drive program said.

People who have questions or are planning on coming to the donor drive can contact Jenkins at laramiemarrowdrive@hotmail.com.