190 New Donors from GCC Philadelphia! Rest in Peace, Arthur Halim.

Dan speaking on stage

Two weeks ago, on Friday 3/17 and Sunday 3/19, we ran a bone marrow drive at Grace Covenant Church (GCC) in Philadelphia, PA at UPenn’s campus. Of all the bone marrow drives and speaking engagements I’ve ever done I think this one meant the most.

I was a Penn undergrad and GCC attendee when I was diagnosed with AML on December 7, 2006. The same room in which I shared my story for 40 mins on Friday is the same room that my friends wept and prayed for my life in 10 years ago.

The drive was in honor of Arthur Halim, a Penn undergrad and GCC attendee who died of leukemia in July of last year.  I never met Arthur or knew him personally so initially I really struggled with what to say. But after speaking with some of his friends and reflecting on some of his own words before he passed I realized how much our experiences overlapped. I heard about his struggles with school, his desire to survive, the intensity of his sickness and the grace and peace in which he met death. Eventually the words came, and Friday’s talk went really well.

Man and woman swab their cheeks

We registered 190 total people across Friday and Sunday services. While I do my best not to get caught up in numbers, 190 is insane — more than double our total for all of 2016. The sheer amount of people who were willing to commit to join the registry and sacrifice for others was amazing to see.

A crowd of people seated at desks swabbing their cheeks

Although Arthur’s bone marrow transplant didn’t save his life it gave him four additional months — four months he spent returning to campus to see his friends. Through Arthur so many people were able to see, in real terms, what committed bone marrow donors can mean for others.

Man swabs cheek at desk

Sharing the story of Cheekswab at Penn was the realization of a dream I’ve held for 10 years. I still remember the night that Cheekswab began as a promise on my hospital bed, at a hospital only steps away from the events of Friday and Sunday. I could have never imagined then that I’d be back at Penn sharing that story a decade later.

Volunteers sitting on steps smiling

Thank you to the gracious friends from both Philly and NYC who volunteered their time to help run the drive. It’s literally only via the support from volunteers like you that Cheekswab can be a reality.

Excited group of new donors smiling at camera

And a special thank you to everyone who joined the lottery to save a life!

Completed swab kits in a pile

Rest in Peace, Arthur Halim. You are gone but not forgotten, and it was so clear all weekend that your friends in Philly love and honor you.


Drive Announcement(s): Grace Covenant Church (Philadelphia, PA), Friday 3/17/2017 at 9pm and Sunday 3/19/2017 at 1pm

Cheekswab will be hosting a couple bone marrow drives this weekend at Grace Covenant Church (GCC) in Philadelphia, PA at their University City (UC) site. The UC site meets on the campus of UPenn in Meyerson Hall.

These bone marrow drives are in honor of Arthur Halim, a UPenn undergraduate student and GCC attendee who passed away from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in July 2016.

On Friday, March 17, Dan will be speaking at GCC’s Friday Night Large Group which begins at 7pm. Dan will be sharing about his own time at Penn (10 years ago!), his reflections on his time with cancer, Cheekswab, and his thoughts on Arthur’s life and legacy. Dan and Eunice will host a bone marrow drive immediately after large group in the Meyerson auditorium with an expected start time of 9:00pm.

On Sunday, March 19, Cheekswab will be hosting a much larger bone marrow drive for the 350+ attendees to GCC’s Sunday service. Dan will again speak (albeit much more briefly) during service and a group of Cheekswab volunteers will facilitate a bone marrow drive after service in rooms B2 and B3. Sunday service begins at 11:15am and the drive is expected to begin on Sunday after service, which is roughly 1:00pm.

Hope to see you there, and please spread the word!


Drive recaps! 22 new donors from NYU AACF and 7 new donors from Grace Faith Church!

Hi all,

Sorry for the long overdue recaps (my wife and I moved apartments this month which seriously consumed our lives) but I’d like to thank the 29 people who decided to become bone marrow donors in the past month!

On Wednesday, 9/28/2016 we ran a drive with NYU’s Asian Christian Fellowship, where 22 new people signed up:

Tables of students registering to join the bone marrow registry
Two East Asian women smiling into Cheekswab frame
Two East Asian men smiling into Cheekswab frame

and on Sunday, 10/22/2016, we ran at drive at Grace Faith Church in Chinatown NYC, where we were able to register 7 new donors:

Two new registrants from Grace Faith Church
Young Asian man smiling in cheekswab frame
Man and son smiling in Cheekswab frame

Thank you to everyone we met and spoke to — everyone was super encouraging, with a number of people from the NYU drive who were already registered (!) and several at Grace Faith Church who said they would’ve joined if they met age/medical qualifications. While the ultimate goal is to register as many minority donors as possible, spreading awareness and reception of the message is the road to making that happen.

I’ll never forget the frustration I felt on my hospital bed about the fact that despite a lack of minority donors being a “huge problem” I had never heard about it. No one reached out to the minority communities I was a part of.

These drives are part of the road we travel to making that happen. Thanks to everyone for listening to my story, and please don’t hesitate to share the story with others in your life for whom it may be relevant.

As always, another shout out to all of the friends who help volunteer to help staff our drives. Cheekswab isn’t a reality without your support.

Volunteers for the NYU AACF Cheekswab drive

23 new donors from Good News Church NYC!

Compilation of GNC donors holding up a cheekswab sign
23 new donors at Good News Church NYC

Thank you to the 23 new donors from Good News Church NYC that #SwabbedToSaveALife on Sunday!

It really was a tremendous turnout, with so many people already on the registry. It was a pleasure having the opportunity to share about bone marrow donation and engage with such a tight-knit community. Thank you so much for the time, space and opportunity!

Donors filling out forms on tables


Bone Marrow Drive at Good News Church NYC, Sunday 8/21, 6:30pm-7:30pm

Dan speaking at GNC NYC
Dan speaking at GNC NYC on 8/14

We’ll be hosting another bone marrow drive this Sunday, 8/21, at Good News Church NYC (http://www.gncnyc.org/) immediately following the Sunday service, which starts at 5pm. We expect the drive to happen around 6:30pm or so in the basement of the venue, which is the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd.

The venue’s location is: 236 E. 31ST STREET, New York, NY 10016 (31st between 2nd & 3rd Avenues)

For any GNC members, please be sure to understand the commitment of joining the registry.

Please help spread the word to join the lottery to save a life!