Student Nurses Association to participate in first Gift of Life Campus Challenge

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Photo courtesy of Student Nurses Association GIFT OF LIFE – SNA will be participating for the first time in the Gift of Life Campus Challenge to promote the importance of organ donors.

Ashley Beronja

Since Jan. 21 NMU’s Student Nurses Association has been participating in the 2021 Gift of Life Campus Challenge in Michigan for the first time to raise awareness of the importance of organ donors, as well as help those who are interested sign up. The challenge will go until Feb. 18 with interactive tables every Wednesday in February to promote the challenge and answer questions.

SNA is a group where nursing majors, as well as those interested in becoming a nurse, go to discuss nursing-related trends, educate underclassmen who are interesting in the nursing program and connect with the community by hosting events such as Socktober, an event held in the Fall semester to give the Warming Center or a charity of their choosing socks for the winter. 

“SNA is for anyone who is either in program or interested in becoming a nurse. We look for ways to give back to the community and help out in anyway that we can,” Alyssa Milski, junior nursing major and president of SNA, said. “We also promote ways to gain experience in the field along with practicing skills.” 

Milski was approached by Michelle Andriacchi, assistant professor in the nursing department, who thought the Gift of Life Challenge would be a great task for SNA to take on. Andriacchi lost her close friend Becky a decade ago who ended up being able to give the gift of life to others.

“Her parents, Tim and Beverly Butler, suggested Wayne State join the Gift of Life Campus Challenge and it has turned into a successful event each year,” Andriacchi said. “After teaching at NMU for the past year and working with our nursing students, I thought it would be a great challenge for our Student Nurses Association to take on, especially in the middle of a pandemic when they can not host events or participate in their usual activities. They were on board and excited as soon as I mentioned it.”

According to Gift of Life Michigan’s website, the Gift of Life works with colleges and universities to promote organ, tissue and eye donations with their biggest donor drive coming from the Michigan Campus Challenge.

“The Gift of Life Michigan Campus Challenge provides an opportunity to give school rivalries and competitive spirit a new purpose by saving and healing lives. The Campus Challenge program is simple, easy and free,” Gift of Life Michigan said. “In the past 17 years, college students across the state have inspired more than 40,000 people to join the Michigan Organ Donor Registry.”

The Gift of Life Campus Challenge has two categories for how they rank participation from colleges and universities. The first is by what school had the most people sign up and the second is by percentage. Milski is confident that NMU will win the percentage challenge.

“Since we are a smaller campus we have a better chance at succeeding in that category,” Milski said.

For Nicole Austin, senior nursing major and member of SNA, along with the competitive challenge between school rivals, participating in the Gift of Life challenge most importantly opens the doors for people looking to become an organ donor.

“Gift of Life is a good opportunity for those who didn’t sign up when they got their license or didn’t know if they wanted to be one to sign up,” Austin said.

On Feb. 3, 10 and 17 the SNA will have educational tables set up from 10-4 p.m. to promote the challenge and inform NMU about organ donation and the benefits. 

“As people walk by we are going to tell them what organs can be donated,” Milski said. “We are going to tell them that their tissue can actually be donated because that is a big misconception.”

According to Gift of Hope, becoming an organ donor means saving up to eight people as well as enhancing the lives of more than 25.

Austin, Milski and Andriacchi all agreed on the importance of becoming an organ donor. With COVID-19 preventing SNA from participating in other events, Gift of Life gives SNA an event that can still run while promoting an important cause.

“Organ donation has the opportunity to save so many lives. Many people just don’t know or understand the process,” Andriacchi said. “The goal of the GOL campus challenge is to not only register donors but to educate, which is a huge part of being a nurse.”

As of Jan. 26, NMU is in first place for both rankings of the most people registered as well as by percentage. Out of the total 48 who are registered, NMU has brought in 26 new donors with Wayne State University coming in second with 20.

If you are interested in becoming an organ donor, go to the Gift of Life Michigan website to sign up and participate in the Campus Challenge. For more information about SNA, organ donations as well as ways to participate email [email protected]