Playing the Role of a Hero

Fall 2014 Issue

Admit it. When you play the lottery you don’t really think you’ll win. Deep down you know the odds are stacked against you. That, too, is the likely mindset of those who register to be bone marrow donors, as members of the Susquehanna community did last spring for the football team’s Be the Match bone marrow registry drive.

But just like the lottery where someone’s numbers are called, there will be individuals on the bone marrow registry who learn they’re a potential match. Susquehanna senior offensive lineman Ron Vilardi’s “number” was, indeed, called, and there was not any hesitation on his part.

“I had no reservations, and I’d do it again,” says the business administration major from Little Silver, N.J.

The process for him actually started well before the Crusader football team hosted its bone marrow drive in April. Vilardi had been on the bone marrow registry since November 2013, when he and many of his family members joined it in hopes of being a match for his mother’s cousin, who was suffering from leukemia.

Vilardi, unfortunately, was not a match, and life continued as normal for the then junior. He spent the 2014 spring semester studying abroad in London, and the prospect of being a donor was a distant thought until July, when he received a phone call informing him he was a potential match for an anonymous patient.

The New Jersey native and four-year member of the football squad went for blood tests and ultimately was confirmed as a match. Thus began the whirlwind process of trying to save someone’s life. Along the way, Vilardi’s white blood cell count fell low, causing him to miss not only the season opener but also the final home opener of his college career. Nonetheless, Vilardi says it was a sacrifice worth making.

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