KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For more than five years, a child who was diagnosed with cancer has been a source of inspiration for the Shawnee Mission Northwest student athletes.
“Baseball is a small thing, and what Matthew is going through is a much greater thing,” Shawnee Mission Northwest Head Baseball Coach Domenic Mussat said.
Matthew Martin was first diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 2015. That fall, Shawnee Mission Northwest Athletics adopted Matthew through a foundation called Pinky Swear, which helps support children who have been diagnosed with cancer and their families.
Although the school's involvement with the foundation slowly faded after 2015, the Athletic Department stayed closed with Matthew and his family.
“We lost touch with the organization, but we never lost touch with the family” Shawnee Mission Athletic Director Angelo Giacalone said, adding Matthew's mindset and will power has always been impressive. “He’s got a great frame of mind, because he knows that he is going into what he calls 'War and Wellness,' and he knows it's a war to try and get better.”
The feelings are mutual for Mussat, who said his team draws inspiration from Matthew.
“Being that young and going through what he’s going through has just given the inspiration to us to just say, 'Hey, we might be hurt and sore and a little tire, but look what he’s going through. If he can do it, we can do it.”
Amanda Moore, Matthew's mother, said it has been amazing to see the high school student athletes involved in something so meaningful, especially so many years later.
“Just to see these young people to care about something other than themselves and to realize that the world is a lot bigger than just high school and there are a lot of people that need help,” Moore said.
Matthew, now 8 years old, needs a Bone Marrow transplant. Four matches have been found, but only one was able to be contacted. Moore said there still is a lengthy process ahead for Matthew and many other children who have been diagnosed with pediatric cancer.
"He is not the only kid in this situation... You’re signing up to save a kid," she said. "It could be tomorrow that they call or or it could be years from now, but when a kid get to the point where they need a bone marrow match, they really need it.”
People between the ages of 18 and 44, can sign up to be a match by visiting Be My Match online or by texting "matthewsfight" to 61474. A kit will be provided, and all that's needed is the swab of the cheek to possibly save the life a child like Matthew.