Anaheim Angel hitting coach Rod Carew knows the importance of publicizing the need for bone marrow donations.
Carew lost his daughter, Michelle, in 1996 to leukemia after a nationally publicized effort failed to find a bone marrow match.
To honor her memory and help others, Carew has stepped to the plate as the national spokesman for the Five Points of Life Ride.
A team of 15 cyclists will leave today from Newport Beach on a 44-day cross-country ride to St. Augustine, Fla. Their mission: to carry the message of the need for lifesaving donations.
At the Angels' game against the Kansas City Royals Friday night at Edison Field, several members of the cycling team were introduced.
"We just have to keep reminding people to help others . . . that there are people out there who need their help. It's a way of people giving the gift of life," said Carew, an Anaheim Hills resident.
The bicycle ride is aimed at calling attention to the need for donations of blood, platelets, bone marrow, organs and tissue and umbilical cord blood.
Here in Southern California, for instance, fewer people donate blood per capita than any other area in the country, said Rich Krieg, acting chief executive officer of American Red Cross Blood Services, Southern California region.
As a result, Krieg said, the Red Cross imports 40% of the blood needed by Southern California's sick and injured.
The second Five Points of Life cycling event is presented by LifeSouth Community Blood Centers, a nonprofit blood center.
Information on becoming a marrow donor: (1-800) 843-2949, Ext. 5595; to donate blood and platelets, (1-800) GIVE LIFE.