When her friend, Haden DeRoberts, received a bone-marrow transplant in 2012 after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, Maddie Arndt said, it was a gift not only for him but also for all who knew him.
"It gave him five more years of life, and it gave us five extra years with him that we wouldn't have had," she said. "I'm grateful for that, and I want to make sure other people get to spend more time with their friends and family."
DeRoberts, a Grandview Heights High School and Ohio University graduate, died in December 2016 at age 24.
Inspired by his efforts to encourage people to have their cheeks swabbed and join a national registry as potential bone-marrow donors, Grandview Heights High School held its first "get swabbed' event in March 2017.
Arndt, who will graduate later this month from Grandview, has organized the third annual event, which will be held from 7:30 to 8 a.m., 10:45 to 11:50 a.m. and 3 to 4 p.m. May 9 and 10 in the faculty lounge at the high school, 1587 W. Third Ave.
After he received his transplant, DeRoberts organized music festivals to raise money for cancer research and where people could sign up to join a national registry as potential bone-marrow donors.
He also served as a spokesman for the swab effort coordinated by the Hillel organization at Ohio University.
DeRoberts found a way to turn his battle into something positive, Arndt said.
"He's still having an impact on our school and our community," she said.
In the first two Grandview swab efforts, more than 180 students and staff members participated and signed up to join the registry, Arndt said.
"It's been a great response," she said. "It just shows how Grandview is such a close-knit community. People are always ready and willing to do something to help out people and to support their community."
Arndt spends about half of her school days participating in Mosaic, a program supported by the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio that offers area students a project-based, integrated humanities curriculum.
"I'm signing up some of my classmates in Mosaic to get swabbed, too," she said. "The more people we can get into the registry, the more people who might have their lives extended."
Community members also can participate in the swabbing event at the high school, Arndt said.
"If you're available during the times and days we're holding it, you can just call the school (at 614-485-4000) to arrange to stop by and get swabbed," she said.
Getting swabbed is a simple, fast and painless procedure, Arndt said.
"It's just a matter of having your cheeks swabbed twice with cotton and signing a form," she said.
Anyone interested in signing up to be a potential bone-marrow donor can get more information and register at dkms.org or lovehopestrength.org.
DeRoberts served as a volunteer at LoveHopeStrength, an organization that raises funds and awareness to benefit patients with cancer and leukemia.
"I miss him dearly every day, and supporting a cause that he supported so passionately is one way I can honor his memory," Arndt said.
DeRoberts would make others smile and had a way of making everyone he encountered feel special, she said.
Arndt's effort is another example of how Grandview students are motivated to help others, Chief Academic Officer Jamie Lusher said.
It's a value that the district looks to instill in its students, she said.
"Our students are committed to looking for ways they can impact or help people, whether it's one person or a community," Lusher said.
Even though she won't be at Grandview High School next year, Arndt said, she would like to see other students continue the swabbing project.
"It's such an important issue -- not just getting people signed up for the registry, but just to educate them about how bone-marrow donations can help people live longer," she said.
Arndt should be commended not only for stepping forward to coordinate this year's project, but for looking for ways to keep it going, Lusher said.
"It's the idea of, you're lighting a torch so someone else can carry it forward," Lusher said.