Pacers star inspires fan to make life-saving donation

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He’s a fan favorite for the Pacers, and now Roy Hibbert is inspiring some fans to try and save a life, motivating Hoosiers to make a life-changing donation.

Hibbert has a strong following in Area 55 – fans there are loyal and now some are following Hibbert’s lead – raising awareness for people to ‘Be the Match’ for those in need of life saving bone marrow.

“I believe I was put on this Earth for a reason and one of the reasons is helping people,” said Pacers fan Colin Lott, who was donating stem cells at IU Health University hospital Monday.

Lott doesn’t know who he’s helping, but he knows why, and there’s no doubt about who inspired him to do it.

Lott was even wearing Roy Hibbert’s jersey as he sat in a hospital bed, hooked up to a machine for several hours.

“It’s very important to (Roy),” Lott said. “And what’s important to him is what’s important to me.”

It’s so important to Hibbert that the Pacers center flew to California last year hoping to meet a 12-year old fan with leukemia. But sadly the child passed away the day Hibbert was supposed to fly out and visit.

“It was heartbreaking and Roy really took it that way too,” Lott said. “I was very saddened by it.”

So Lott went to an event Hibbert held at the mall, and got swabbed and signed up for the donor registry.

“I never thought I’d be in this position to save somebody’s life,” said Lott.

“It is awesome. I’m so proud of his bravery. He’s saving a life,” said Lott’s girlfriend, Nira Watts, a fellow Pacers fan who met Lott in Area 55, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

“If I meet a girl she has to love the Pacers,” said Lott.

Monday, Watts was getting swabbed too, for a cause that’s also close to her heart.

“My grandmother was diagnosed with leukemia (and) she eventually died,” said Watts. “I definitely have that passion to help somebody else to save their life.”

“It is life saving,” said IU Health hematologist Rafat Abonour. “We just take the blood out and run it through this machine, then separate the stem cells form the rest of the blood.”

These days it’s so easy, Colin says he won’t even miss the game Monday night, just hours after donating.

“After I’m done with this, I’m going to paint my face like I always do and go to the game and yell as loud as I can,” said Lott.

“At first I thought he was a little crazy and then I thought about it and said, ‘You know what, I totally expect that out of him.’”

For more information on how you can become a donor, visit the web site for Be the Match, the organization that’s recruiting people between the ages of 18-44 to sign up for the donor registry.

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