A simple swab of the mouth during a recruiting visit to SUNY Cortland (D-III - NY) started a relationship that Junior linebacker John Stephens will never forget.
After taking part in a bone marrow drive during a visit to campus Stephens ended up being a perfect match and saving the life of a toddler named Clara Boyle who had been in life and death battle with leukemia. Nearly two years after making his donation, Stephens received an email from Clara's mother, Brooke, explaining how grateful she was for the gift of life that Stephens had provided for her daughter.
Stephens was admittedly emotional while reading the email and finally being able to put a face to the life that he had changed.
Brooke commended Stephens choice to donate, saying "You made a choice that many people don’t make, and your choice and your self-sacrifice and your prayers saved our daughter’s life.”
One particular line of the email stuck with Stephens.
“Your blood is clearly running through my daughter’s vein. She LOVES football.”
To make the situation even more special, the family has decided to travel across the country nearly 3,000 miles to watch Stephens play against Brockport tomorrow afternoon.
On average, only one out of every 540 members of the National Bone Marrow Donor Program is a match. Cortland has signed up four potential matches in the past four years that it has organized a bone marrow drive. Pretty impressive stat.
While the past few weeks we have highlighted bone marrow registries and donations, what we are hoping to bring to light is the multitude of ways that coaching staffs and players can impact lives in their local community and beyond. It's all a small part of our jobs as coaches to help our players become well rounded people in the big picture.