Matthew Szczur Foundation
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Matt's Story

“There’s more to life than just baseball.” Many have spoken similar words, but few have displayed their meaning with more impact than Matt Szczur.

During his collegiate career, Matt’s accomplishments on both the football and baseball fields placed him among the very best athletes in the storied history of Villanova University.

As his junior year at Villanova began to unfold, it was clear Matt’s athletic future was bright. He was a highly sought-after professional prospect in both sports. NFL and MLB scouts flocked to the Main Line to watch Matt play.

It is not, however, his performance on the field that best demonstrates Matt’s courage and character. The athletic awards, honors and accolades that have come Matt’s way pale in comparison to his willingness to give it all up to save the life of a young leukemia patient he had never met.

During his freshman year at Villanova, Matt became aware of the Be the Match Registry®, a national marrow donor list, through Head Football Coach Andy Talley. Each spring, Talley and his team host a Get in the Game. Save a Life. registry drive. Athletes and students in the Villanova community get their cheek swabbed for a DNA sample and are placed on the Registry to possibly be a bone marrow match someday.

In the fall of 2009, Szczur was on the way to being named the conference offensive player of the year when that “someday” came. He received a phone call from the National Bone Marrow Registry where he was told he was a match. Surprised but excited by the call, Matt agreed to move forward with the process. Playing out the rest of Villanova Football’s winning season was now in jeopardy. Matt was placed on standby, and would be notified when his recipient was ready for the procedure.

As luck would have it, the Villanova Wildcats advanced to the FCS National Championship Game. Matt totaled 270 yards, scored two touchdowns, and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player, and Villanova football won their first national championship.
A few months later, in the spring of 2010, with the Major League Baseball draft just one month away, Matt received the phone call he had been waiting for. His recipient was ready and needed a bone marrow transplant immediately. Despite having scouts from all 30 Major League clubs anxious to watch him during the last few months leading up to the draft, Matt immediately agreed to interrupt and potentially end his final baseball season at Villanova to donate his bone marrow.

Matt missed 10 Villanova baseball games but returned to the diamond three weeks after the procedure. Despite feeling tired and achy, he hit a homerun at his first at-bat upon his return. Shortly thereafter he was drafted by the Chicago Cubs, with whom he later made his major league debut and 25-man roster for two seasons as well as won the 2016 World Series before being traded to the San Diego Padres in 2017.

The story however continued. One year after donating his bone marrow, Matt was told the identity of his recipient. Via Skype, he was able to speak with her and her family in the Ukraine. This young girl, named Anastasia, is now in remission.

As Matt’s professional baseball career is blossoming, his resolve to have an impact off the field is stronger than ever. "You can only do so much in baseball. You can only hit the ball so far, throw the ball so hard. To be able to make a difference in not only your life, but somebody else's life and their family, it's huge.”

With The Matthew Szczur Foundation, Matt continues to remain committed to The Andy Talley Bone Marrow Foundation and the Be the Match Organization. He thanks each of you for your support and commitment, and urges you to spread the word about how a simple cheek swab can save a life.

Szcz The Day
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