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University of Iowa News Release


March 25, 2009

'Inspiring Soles' winner benefits Iowa Marrow Donor Program

Small steps can add up to big results. Just ask long-distance trekker Rusty Bishop of Des Moines, who has won a nationwide contest called "Inspiring Soles" that honors athletes who go to extraordinary lengths to inspire and help others.

In honor of Bishop, the shoe manufacturer Crocs will donate $30,000 to the Iowa Marrow Donor Program based at the University of Iowa to help recruit new members to the national registry. Outside magazine features a full page advertisement for the national program in its April issue, which is now available.

Bishop not only donated marrow to a person in need, but also has run numerous footraces of 100 miles and longer to raise cancer and marrow donor awareness.

"The Iowa Marrow Donor Program nominated Bishop for the contest because of his tireless efforts to bring attention to the need for more people to register as donors and be added to the National Marrow Donor Program," said Colleen Chapleau, director of the Iowa Marrow Donor Program at Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UI.

Several Iowans are waiting to make matches -- from a 31-year-old father of toddler twins to a five-year-old girl who has battled leukemia for a year, Chapleau noted.

"We're so excited for Rusty and greatly appreciate that his efforts will help fund donor drives so that new donors do not have to pay for the necessary tissue typing and people trying to find donors have increased opportunities," said Chapleau, whose program is the only marrow donor center in Iowa. "We also thank all the supporters in Iowa and elsewhere who voted for Rusty in the 'Inspiring Soles' contest."

The first two marrow drives funded by the winner's gift are planned for April 22 at Iowa State University and in Dubuque. More information will soon be available on these drives. Individuals who would like to be put on a contact list about the events may send an e-mail request to

Bone marrow and cord blood transplants are used to treat people with leukemia, lymphoma and many other diseases. For many patients, a transplant is the best treatment and only hope for a cure. Patients in need turn first to their families to find a donor. However, 70 percent of those patients will not find a suitable match in their family and so rely on marrow donor programs.

Bishop donated his marrow in 1992 to a little girl through the National Marrow Donor Program. Since this life-saving donation, Bishop has run races worldwide to help raise funds and awareness about marrow donation. Recently, he trekked 150 miles in seven days across the Atacama Desert in northern Chile.

While crossing the desert, Bishop asked friends and family to donate money to cover Iowa Marrow Donor Program costs for the tissue typing of new members. Upon his return, while still nursing the blisters on his feet, he co-hosted a donor drive in Des Moines to raise even more awareness about the need for marrow donors.

Bishop has also gone on long treks through the Sahara Desert, Death Valley and the Gobi Desert to raise awareness about cancer and raise funds for the Iowa Marrow Donor Program.

Specialists at UI Hospitals and Clinics performed the first marrow transplant there in 1980. Since then, more than 1,700 people have received blood and marrow transplants through the UI's Blood and Marrow Transplantation Programs, which are part of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UI.

To learn more about the Iowa Marrow Donor Program call 800-944-8220 or visit

To learn more about Inspiring Soles visit

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Care Media Relations, 5137 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: Becky Soglin, 319-335-6660,