City of Liverpool FC Executive Director Gary shares his donor registration event story

2 May 2017

When Ormskirk baby, Jem, was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia in November 2016, his local community wanted to do everything they could to help him, and others like him, find a potentially lifesaving blood stem cell donor.


Gary Johansen, Executive Director at football team City of Liverpool FC, first heard about Jem and his search for a donor through a club colleague. Inspired, he decided to help by organising a donor registration event at the club:

I first heard about DKMS through our Assistant Manager Tom Spearritt, who worked with a close friend of little Jem's family. They had asked him if our football club, City of Liverpool FC, could help fundraise etc.

Tom passed me on some details, and from there I contacted Lisa Nugent (Head of Donor Recruitment at DKMS) to liaise in relation to setting up a fundraising and registration event at one of our matches.

Obviously, as a community driven club and with such a fantastic cause, we were delighted to be able to help.

City of Liverpool FC players registering as potential blood stem cell donors with DKMS

To get everything set-up, I first had to liaise with Lisa to find a suitable match day for the event to be held. This included discussions about how the event would work, what would be required, the time the event would start, who would do bucket collections, and what literature etc Lisa and the volunteers would bring with them to further promote the event.

I also posted news of the upcoming event on our club Twitter page and on our club App. We also discussed the event on our weekly club podcast (The COLcast) and I also organised for a two-page article to be in the Match Day Programme the week prior to the event. All this was done to not only make our fans aware of what was going on, but to give maximum exposure to the event. We average a crowd of 448, which is massive for a brand new football club in a division such as ours (the average league attendance last season was approximately 55).

City of Liverpool FC Player Registering as a Potential Blood Stem Cell Donor

The event went extremely well. Liaising a number of times with Lisa about how we would do things really enabled the event to go smoothly.

I had arranged for a corner of our clubhouse to be the hub of the event, with literature and posters to advertise DKMS and what they were doing. It was extremely well supported by our fans, us Scousers are a generous bunch you know! Even our opponents on the day, Silsden, got involved and staff and players from both teams donated, registered and posed for photographs.

I believe the final total raised was just over £313.00, which is absolutely brilliant! The event also registered 42 potential life savers!

It was great too that little Jem and his parents were able to be there on the day, as I'm sure such a turnout and response must have been really encouraging for them as a family.

Jem and his parents at City of Liverpool FC

After the event, I forwarded the details, along with a wonderful thank you letter from Lisa, to the league (Hallmark Security NWCL) who then posted the story on their website and also signposted DKMS in the article.

To anyone that may be interested in hosting a donor registration event, I would say definitely do it, don't even hesitate! There are so many people that desperately need life-saving treatment. It costs nothing to register, just a few minutes of your time, and to have the possibility of being able to save a life is just priceless!

Also, the amazing friendly atmosphere created by hosting such an event is excellent. Being able to help support and share stories and information about DKMS and hearing about the work they do is a very worthwhile and rewarding thing. If anyone reading this has the opportunity to hold a much needed donor registration event to help DKMS, then they should definitely do it!”

If you are interested in registering people as potential blood stem cell donors in your family, local community, workplace or at your university, please send us a message.