Nonprofit hosts bone marrow registry drive

By: Nico Rubello | C&G Newspapers | Published March 14, 2013

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Taylor Kanas likes all kinds of music.

It’s music she credits with helping her get through the tough times after she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Kanas — who was 26 when she was diagnosed in the fall of 2010 — endured 11 months of chemotherapy, an emergency biopsy, losing her hair and a stem cell transplant.

“When I was going through my treatment, I would always look to music to escape and forget about things, whether it was just listening to music by myself or with friends, or going to a concert,” she said.

It was Kanas’ experience with lymphoma that inspired the creation of Rockin’ For A Match, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing awareness about the need for bone marrow donors.

On March 11, Rockin’ For A Match held a concert and fundraiser to add new names to the bone marrow donor registry. It was the third consecutive year for the event, but the first year at The Detroit Pub on Harper Avenue in Clinton Township.

Those who signed up took cheek swabs and filled out a form, which were sent to the nonprofit organization DKMS to be added to the registry. Forty-eight people were added to the registry through this year’s event alone. Funds raised through the event go to cover the roughly $65-per-person cost of processing the bone marrow kits.

“It’s great that all these people are showing up for the entertainment and the vendors,” said Rockin’ For A Match producer Maria Wade. “But I guess what’s really important, and what I hope to see, are people on that registry. That’s our main goal — bringing awareness to people who can help.”

While the musical acts performed on stage, vendors in the next room sold wares and clothing, including Rockin’ For A Match merchandise.

The vendors donated a portion of their proceeds, and Detroit Pub in Clinton Township donated a portion of its sales from the day. Also, the $5 cover charge and proceeds from a raffle went to the cause, said Kanas, now 28 and the president of Rockin’ For A Match.

For those on the registry, the chances of getting called on for a marrow transplant are slim. Still, the larger they can build the registry, the better the chance of finding matches.

The first year Rockin’ For A Match held its bone marrow drive, in March 2011 at the Emerald Theatre in Mount Clemens, the event brought about 220 people on the registry.

That year was personal. At the time, Kanas was still looking for a donor match for herself.

And while it didn’t yield a match for her — Kanas’ tissue type is very rare — the event did launch Rockin’ For A Match, and the event has continued on with the goal of finding matches for others on the registry.

As for Kanas, doctors ultimately were able to transplant umbilical cord stem cells in June 2011. She has been in remission since then.

Greg Clark — who works with Kanas’ fiancé, the son of his cousin’s wife — was among those who were added to the registry at the March 10 event.

“When you know somebody who’s having problems, you start thinking, ‘Maybe I could help somebody,’” Clark said.

This year, Kanas and the other Rockin’ For A Match organizers — Wade and vice president Mary Loveless — decided to put a new spin on their drive by shining a spotlight on women. With the exception of a male DJ who has been with the event since its inception, an all-female revue of comedians and musicians performed rock, blues and metal songs throughout the 12-hour event, which began at 2 p.m. March 10.

“The community is very strong when it comes to backing events like this,” Wade said. “Everybody wants to help. The community itself is very strong when it comes to benefits or anything like this.”

For people who didn’t attend the event, but are still interested in potentially being a
bone marrow donor, Rockin’ For A Match provides information through its website,