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Match Game

18 April 2015

The season’s over, Providence and Minnesota-Twin Cities are the new national champions, the Stanley Cup playoffs have begun, it’s warm in Duluth (not for long)… what to do? What to write about?

Why don’t I shamelessly ask my vast readership for money?

I signed up for the Be The Match 5K in Minneapolis and I am supposed to be raising money for it. I don’t like to ask people for money, even when it’s for charity. But I must.

The Be The Match Foundation helps cure blood cancers, aplastic anemia, and a host of other diseases by matching bone marrow donors with recipients; supporting and educating patients, families, and medical professionals; and conducting research to improve survival rates for blood cancers, cure disease, and improve the quality of life of patients. My wonderful sister-in-law worked for them for several years, before departing for the vast wasteland that is North Dakota. Two members of my family have received marrow transplants (and are thriving, despite the Gophers’s best efforts to ruin the quality of life of one them…), another died young from leukemia, and I lost this guy, a huge hockey and metal dork, to non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2008. I’m running this race in honor or memory of all these great people.I am sure all of you have similar stories, happy or sad.

While I know all these people who have benefited or could have benefited from a bone marrow transplant, the story of someone I don’t know and will never know has stuck with me for years. Mandi Schwartz, a Yale hockey player, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2008. Many of you may remember the push from the college hockey community to find a donor for her. She didn’t find a donor but did get a stem cell transplant in 2010, which led to a brief remission of her disease. Her cancer returned, and Mandi died in April of 2011, a week after her brothers had lost to Michigan in the NCAA West Regional final (CC’s only goal was scored by Rylan, assisted by Jaden). I cried when I found out she had died, even though I didn’t know her or her family. I felt so sad for her family and her teammates. It was a painful reminder that even a transplant isn’t a guarantee of a clean bill of health. I’m running this race to honor her legacy.

The search for a donor for Mandi actually generated matches for six people who were waiting for transplants. You can help by joining the registry, and you can help by making a financial donation to my fundraising page. I would be forever grateful. I might even say a nice thing about your team, even if you’re a UND fan.

Thanks for indulging me in this not quite hockey related post. If you are able and compelled to donate, please do.

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