Each year at the annual benefit in support of HelpHOPELive, we honor three community heroes who prove why our mission matters with the Help, HOPE and Live awards.
This year, the recipient of the HOPE award will go to a very special football player by the name of John Stephens.
John was attending his freshmen recruiting weekend at SUNY Cortland when he was exposed to a program designed to save lives. It was a nationwide bone-marrow registry drive that Cortland participates in called “Get in the Game, Save a Life.” During the visit, John signed up and entered the registry. Little did he know that a year later he would receive the call that he was a match – for Clara Boyle, an infant battling leukemia 3,000 miles away.
It was John’s bone marrow, donated in January 2011, which allowed Clara to win her fight against acute myeloid leukemia, a rare cancer that attacks the blood cells.
The following August, Clara’s mom sent an email to John with the subject line “You saved her life.” It was the first time John was able to find out how Clara was doing, where she was from and what her name was. The two families arranged a meeting and in October 2012, the Boyle family traveled to Cortland State so that a healthy Clara could watch “her football player” in action.
The HOPE award will be presented by Andy Talley, Villanova Head Football Coach and the man responsible for the “Get in the Game, Save a Life” initiative at this year’s HelpHOPE—Live it up! benefit on September 17.