Miracle Match is about real stories and real people. We want you to know that when you are out on the course. Each Mile is dedicated to someone who has been touched by marrow and stem cell donation. Here are their stories:
Jeanie is not only the assistant superintendent for Administrative Services at the Midway ISD, but is also a marrow transplant survivor. Jeanie’s donor was her sister, Claire Sides Northcut. Jeanie and her family were always aware that not everyone finds a matched donor. Because of that, they have continually supported the Miracle Match Marathon, hosting the “Sunny Sides” rest stop each year. Last year under Jeanie’s leadership, Midway had several relay teams at Miracle Match. She also started the district’s running and training program which encourages involvement in many local races.Jeanine has unfortunately had a relapse with the cancer this past year. She is undergoing difficult transfusions in hopes to avoid a full marrow transplant, but is lucky to have her three siblings who are matches if she does need them. Jeanie is an inspiration to us all, but says her inspiration is from her siblings willingness to donate.
Rowan was an incredible little 10 year-old. Diagnosed with Shwachmann-Diamond Syndrome at two years old, he spent over 1500 days in the hospital, had dozens of blood transfusions and made nearly 100 trips to the operating room. Although Rowan passed away in December following complications from his two bone marrow transplants, his legacy will live on in the many thousands of people who followed him each day. Thanks to his mother’s daily blogs, people around the globe learned what strength, hope, courage and unwavering FAITH really were all about. Although most of us were strangers when we first followed his story, we quickly became his prayer warriors as we began to know this amazing little boy who always had a smile and never gave up
Gabi Ornelas is a young girl from Temple, Texas whose favorite subject is art and one day wants to become a YouTube star! That is all on hold, however, as Gabi was diagnosed in July of 2015 with acute lymphocytic leukemia. She does not have a match within her family and is still searching the Be The Match Registry for a matching donor.
Emily is no stranger to central Texans. Emily is a past reporter and news anchor at Channel 10. Emily registered with Be The Match a couple of years ago at the Miracle Match Marathon and was asked later to be a donor. Emily made a video about her donation experience which she shared on the air to help promote awareness for the need for marrow and stem cell donors.
Cindy was a recipient of a stem cell transplant in 2011. While Cindy was searching for a match, her family and friends held numerous drives to increase the registry. They continue to support the program by educating others about the importance of being a stem cell donor and the ease of joining the registry. We are very sad to say Cindy passed away in 2012, but her family continues to honor her by their support of increasing the registry and the Miracle Match Marathon.
Brian Thomas, a senior lecturer at Baylor University, donated stem cells many years ago. He continues to support the program and has spoken to several groups about his experience on the Baylor campus. His great uncle, Dr. Donnell Thomas, was a leader in the field of stem cell transplant research and won the Nobel prize for his efforts.
Dr. McAllister is a professor of Music at Baylor University. He was a matched donor two years ago and donated stem cells to give to a woman with myelodysplastic syndrome.
The Waco Wild West 100 has been held in Waco for over 30 years. The hundreds of hours of work their volunteers put into the event has turned this rally ride into a true world-class biking event. As one of the organizations that benefit from the Waco Wild West 100, they have enabled the Central Texas Be The Match organization to educate central Texas communities about stem cell transplantation and add thousands of people to the Be The Match Registry.
Tim is not only a Waco Fire Fighter and the producer of the Miracle Match Marathon finisher medals and award medals but he is also a peripheral blood stem cell donor. He donated several years ago through the Be The Match Registry. Tim hand cuts each of our finisher medals and award medals each year.
Greg registered in 2004 at a drive at Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center where he works. He came up as a match several years after he registered and donated stem cells to a young man with lymphoma.
Megan Blair Dominguez was 23 years old when she was diagnosed with AML leukemia, which is uncommon for someone so young. A wife and mother, Megan underwent a stem cell transplant and finally achieved remission. She passed away the following year due to complications from treatment.
Wade Durbin and Edith Huseman – Donation Advocates
Wade Durbin is a local Fire Fighter who has been involved with the Miracle Match Marathon since the beginning. He is involved because his sister, Edith Huseman, has been fighting leukemia for many years and may need a marrow or stem cell transplant. Thank you, Wade, for all you do to help keep our runners safe!
A professor at Baylor University in the Science department, he donated stem cells a few years ago and continues to support the program by supporting the students at Baylor who work tirelessly to increase the number of donors on the registry through the Be The Match On Campus Baylor University. Sic Em!
A mother of 2, a runner, a wife, a friend. Mary O’Connor lost her battle with ovarian cancer last year. We honor her memory at Miracle Match as she was such a positive influence on this running community. Throughout the years of procedures and treatments, she continued to run and live her life to the fullest because of the support of her family, her friends, her community, and most of all, because of her faith. Never give up. Stay the course. Keep the faith.
Kay is from Waco and received a stem cell transplant in 2006. Kay has been a supporter of the Miracle Match Marathon and was a past honorary race chair. Since her transplant, she has had three grandchildren born, gone back to school to earn her Master’s in Social Work degree and is currently working full-time as a social worker for dialysis patients.
Thank you to all participants who are giving life to others by supporting Miracle Match Marathon.
Although having to fight cancer is no strange task, having to depend on someone else to save your life gives dependency a new meaning. At a regular post-melanoma cancer check-up, Bill Goss’ physician did not like the way some of his blood work looked. Within a few days came the diagnosis “leukemia.” What stood out the most to Bill and his wife, Sandy, was the sentence “and you may have nine months to two years to live without a stem cell transplant”. To feel and look totally healthy yet be told your life most likely will end in a short time without a stem cell transplant speaks volumes as to why the Be The Match Registry needs as many donors as possible. Going through the whole process of locating a match (Bill’s son was his donor), receiving the stem cells, to post transplantation protocol gave the Goss family a bird’s eye view on how important every job is regarding this life saving project. It is truly a miracle to witness and experience. Miracle Match Marathons are the necessary and the first leg of the race for life.
Be The Match On Campus Baylor University
The student organization, Be The Match On Campus, was organized at Texas A&M University in 2011 and at Baylor University in 2012. These students hold registration drives throughout the semester and work hard to educate their fellow students about the Be The Match Registry. Their efforts have resulted in hundreds of students on both campuses joining the registry. Over the past three years, several of these newly recruited volunteers have been asked to donate marrow or stem cells to patients searching for a match.
The Wehmeyer family have been advocates for the Be The Match Registry for the past eight years when Susan Wehmeyer was found to need a stem cell transplant. Due to their efforts to promote the need for people to join the registry, the Scott & White Marrow Donor Program’s largest single one-day drive was held by the Wehmeyer’s Church. Susan found a match and had many years with her family due to her donor. She was our Honorary Race Chair and participated in Miracle Match with her children. Several years ago, Susan relapsed and passed away.
The Wehmeyer family continues to support the Miracle Match Marathon in Susan’s honor. It is their annual tradition is to participate in various races on race weekend and show support for the Be The Match Registry and the miracles made through stem cell transplants.div>
Ben Miller, a College Station fire fighter, noticed in the summer of 2015 that he was feeling weak and tired. He went to his physician to get checked out and was diagnosed with leukemia. He needed a stem cell transplant and luckily had a family member who was a match. Ben realized many patients needing stem cell transplants do not have a donor, so Ben, his family and friends began holding registration drives in the Brazos Valley. They later expanded their efforts nationwide to help others in need. Due to their efforts, many hundreds more volunteers have been added the Be The Match Registry.
The Baylor University Golden Wave Band is being honored by the Miracle Match Marathon for their outstanding support for Be The Match. The Golden Wave band have held registration drives on campus which added many more volunteers to the registry. Several of those registered have become donors giving patients a second chance for life.
Jillian registered with Be The Match at a drive at Texas A&M several years ago. About the time she moved to Waco, she also came up as a match for a woman with leukemia. She donated stem cells to this patient six months ago and so far, she is doing well.
Dana was diagnosed with breast cancer this year and now says she is beginning a new stage of her my life, filled with a new battle and new goals. She was nominated as a mile marker honoree by one of our runners who said he was very impressed by her strength and support. Dana wrote on her face book page, “I’ve got this! I know it. I have strong support group of family and friends and they will get me through. Next week my battle will officially begin as I have surgery to remove the tumor. After that, an oncologist will determine the next steps with chemo and radiation. I have a long road ahead. Deep breath. I got this! #fightlikeagirl#nobodyfightsalone#cancersucks
B.J. Williams is a teacher at Midway High School. He joined the Be The Match Registry at a drive at his high school seven years ago. This past year, B.J. came up as the match for a young man in Europe with leukemia who needed a transplant.
Erin Buenger was known by her laughter, her friendships, her intelligence, and her enthusiasm for life. When cancer invaded her young life, observers recognized her as a fighter full of courage and as a girl who never felt sorry for herself. She led an active life, despite her ever-present cancer. She worked diligently to increase federal funding of children’s cancer research, spending time on Capitol Hill to lobby the cause. Through her last week of life, she designed and created fused-glass art pieces and directed the money raised to go to the Children’s Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation.To continue her dream of helping other children with cancer, Erin’s Dream Race was begun in College Station in 2015. On March 5, the third Erin’s Dream Race 5K fun run/walk will be held at Texas A&M University, sponsored by Be The Match On Campus — TAMU.
Gerard Neuman was diagnosed with AML in 2010 and received a stem cell transplant from his brother. A true gift of life! Since the transplant, he has seen the births of three grandchildren, one son get married, watch his son graduate from medical school, a daughter graduate from college and another from high school. He is a past Miracle Match Marathon runner and his daughter is running this year in his honor.
Jessie is a member of the Baylor University Golden Wave Band and joined the registry during the band’s recruitment drive last year. Several months after joining the registry, Jessie was a match for a young woman with leukemia.
Joy Ferguson was working for the College Station Fire Department in the summer of 2015 when Fire Fighter Ben Miller was diagnosed with leukemia. Ben and his family were good friends and Joy wanted to do whatever she could to help him. She not only worked on Be The Match Registration drives in Brazos Valley, but send countless emails and letters to fire chiefs across the nation in an effort to have registration drives across the nation to put many more fire fighters on the registry. She continues to be an advocate for the Be The Match Registry.
Megan was entering her freshman year of high school when she was diagnosed with a rare blood disease. Her doctors told her the only hope for a cure was a bone marrow transplant. Megan’s siblings were not a match, but soon a perfect match was found for Megan on the Be The Match Registry and Megan had her life-saving stem cell transplant.
Montana resident, Renee Christopher joined the Be The Match Registry the same year Megan was diagnosed. She said she joined the registry because “it just seemed like the right thing to do.” When asked if she would be a donor for a young girl, Renee answered “of course – how could I possibly not help out a fellow human being?”
When asked what she tells others about her donation experience, Renee says, “I tell them to “sign up! How often does the average person truly get to say they helped save someone’s life? This past November, Renee Christopher travelled from Montana to meet Megan for the first time during the half time of a University of Mary Hardin-Baylor championship playoff game.
Paige Lejeune was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of 13 in January 2014. She underwent three months of extremely intense chemotherapy to battle this aggressive cancer. Paige received a bone marrow transplant in December 2015. Her family says they will be forever thankful for the person who gave their girl another chance at life.
About a year after her transplant, Paige relapsed and passed away this past October. Paige will be remembered as a warrior who faced every challenge with strength, courage and determination.
Retired Texas Ranger Al Cuellar was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome in 2013. He underwent chemotherapy for several months and later was diagnosed with Leukemia. He went into remission until last year, then his bone marrow failed once again. He is presently in the process of searching for a compatible bone marrow donor, while undergoing chemotherapy once again
Rita now lives in Waco, but joined the registry at a recruitment drive 13 years ago in San Saba at the high school. She came up as a match for a young man in Europe who had leukemia. Although it has not been a year since the donation, so far Rita’s recipient is doing well.
Sandi joined the registry over ten years ago. She came up as a match for a man in Europe with myelodysplastic syndrome last year and donated peripheral blood stem cells to give him a second change of life.
The Delta Tau Delta Fraternity at Texas A&M University has been holding recruitment drives for the Be The Match Registry each semester for the past several years. Due to their efforts, over 500 individuals have joined the Be The Match Registry and six of those newly recruited member have gone on to donate marrow or stem cells to patients searching for a match.