Matt Szczur hosts Andy Talley Bone Marrow Benefit
Convention Hall was filled Friday night January 27th with more than 350 fans and supporters of Chicago Cubs outfielder and Lower Township resident, Matt Szczur. The second annual Szcz-The-Day benefit for the Andy Talley Bone Marrow Foundation was hosted by the Lower Cape May Regional High School and Villanova University Alum. Knowing my nephew and niece attended school here till freshman year with Matt made covering this event even more special
Andy Talley, Head Football Coach emeritus of Villanova University started the foundation in November of 2010 after nearly two decades of testing athletes to be matches for bone marrow donations. In the spring of 2008, Talley partnered with “Be- the-Match” organization catapulting his testing idea nationwide.
While a student at Villanova, Matt Szczur, participated in Coach Talley’s Bone Marrow Match program. During a three-hour procedure in 2010, Szczur donated his bone marrow, which he would later learn, saved the life of a four-year-old from the Ukraine named Anastasia. His bone marrow match, which was considered a 1-in-80,000 long shot, was perfect.
The Friday night benefit, was designed to raise money to support the non-profit organization which pays the cost of testing and ultimately bone marrow donations. Per the foundation website, bone marrow donation registration can cost $100.00 per person. With 10,000 new registrants, each year, the registration price tag is close to a million dollars; just for program registration.
At $80.00 a ticket attendees enjoyed a gourmet dinner buffet, open bar and hors d’oeuvers. The after-dinner program featured a video presentation on Matt Szczur’s involvement with the bone marrow program. Produced by ESPN, the video documents the 2011 Skype meeting between Szczur and Anastasia’s family. Anastasia, with blonde hair and glasses, told Szczur she loved him. She blew him a kiss. Ivan and Marina, her parents called him family and expressed their gratitude over and again. There were not many dry eyes in the room.
Other fundraising activities included a live and silent auction featuring autographed memorabilia including baseball bats and jerseys used and worn by the Cubs outfielder. Guests had an opportunity to purchase a flute of champagne from a table full of glasses. One of the glasses picked randomly contained a $3000.00 diamond.
Cape May Brewery hosted a Szcz-the-Pint event to raise awareness for the Andy Talley Bone Marrow Foundation, earlier in the week. First, they created a special beer to commemorate the 175th anniversary of Villanova University. The Cubs outfielder then helped create a one-off special Demisemiseptcentennial Ale, conditioned with orange, pineapple, and coconut. The brewery sold out of the special beer.
Last year’s event raised nearly $80,000. This year organizers hoped the 2nd annual Szcz-the-Day dinner would exceed that amount.