While helping the Virginia Basketball Academy we conducted an event for the Be The Match organization.  At the time it was simply the opportunity to do something as a community service event that was valuable and could potentially help save a life.  That is awe inspiring in itself, but didn’t seem real.

BE THE MATCHThis story isn’t from our event or group, but it really hit home.  It’s real.  A life was saved!

With her permission, Be The Match is sharing with you a Mom’s heart-felt letter of thanks to the college football player whose marrow donation saved the life of her baby girl, Clara.  I don’t know John or Clara or where they are from, I just know that this is special and the respect I have for John is immense.

It’s really amazing to me what a simple choice can do.  It didn’t cost John a dime. It was simply his choice to donate and take the time to do it.

We should all be so fortunate to have an opportunity to live an experience like this in our lives.  John is a hero in the true sense of the word.

As I said, I don’t know John, will never meet him but THANK YOU JOHN!

Here’s the letter….


Hi, John.Her name is Clara Violet Boyle. She is very much alive and is a thriving 2 year old. I imagine that’s the answer to your biggest question. And I have no idea how to thank you or how to really begin the conversation with you.I’ve been waiting a long time to be allowed to contact you. But I also haven’t known what I wanted to say to you or what you’d want to know or say to us. It’s kind of impossible to truly express our gratitude, and I also do not know what you have thought about how this moment would go.At Clara’s 1 year anniversary of what we call her “Butterfly Re-birthday,” I began preparing myself for making contact with you. You beat us to the punch — and I was thrilled to hear that you had shared your contact info with Be The Match®. We got your name and contact details today.Here is what I think you might like to know:

  • Clara was born on April 14, 2010.
  • You registered with Be The Match on May 1st when Clara was 17 days old.
  • She was 4 months old when she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.
  • The specific form of her leukemia was high risk and, because of infection her chances for survival were so slim.
  • You were a PERFECT match for her. Your stem cells en-grafted so quickly and we were discharged from the hospital a month after transplant day. It is usually 100+ days.

There is a lot more that I could tell you. But I will begin to close this letter like this:

Your blood is clearly running through my daughter’s veins. She LOVES football. When I told one of Clara’s nurses that we got your contact info today, she asked me to thank you on behalf of all the nurses who cared for her. Clara was a favorite on the unit and there aren’t many good outcomes in the cancer unit.

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.

I am grateful that your roommate and coach were able to publicly express the inspiration that you were to them. I am grateful to your 50 classmates who wrote you letters of thanks. I hope that you can feel comfortable telling us your story — if that is something you’d like to do. I am happy to tell you anything and everything you’d like to know about Clara.

With much love and respect for you,
Brooke, Clara’s mom


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