Jaden Schwartz absolutely tore up the USHL this season. The 17-year-old rookie led all players in scoring with 33 goals and 83 points in 60 games for the Tri-City Storm, which was more than enough to put him on NHL scouts radar, as he is ranked 28th overall for North American skaters in the upcoming 2010 Entry Draft.
It should be a happy time for the Notre Dame Hounds graduate and his family.Being drafted into the NHL is simply an afterthought due to the fact his older sister Mandi is battling leukemia in Saskatchewan.
Before the illness, the feisty 22-year-old played for the Yale Bulldogs, and was once a candidate for the women's under-22 Canadian National team.
While Mandi's teammates will boast she has always been a fighter (as before being diagnosed with leukemia in December at the age of 20, her streak of 73 straight games played was the longest on the team), she is running out of time and needs stem cell donors within the next few weeks to save her life.
Her family and a doctor in New Haven, Conn., have issued a wide plea for stem cell donors on two fronts.
They are searching for bone marrow matches and are also asking for umbilical cord blood from women about to give birth.
When it comes to bone-marrow donation, the best match is someone with the same heritage as Schwartz, which is German, Ukrainian and Russian. Umbilical-cord blood doesn't have to be a perfect match.
If the family can get a partially-matched cord blood, it's better than a partially-matched bone marrow because it has no immune problems. When the baby is born, the umbilical cord is there and they cut it, and they're going to throw it away; instead of throwing it away, you take the cord blood out of it.
The website www.becomemandishero.org has information about cord-blood donation for Mandi.
For those interested in bone-marrow donation, a simple cheek swab will determine if there's a match. Go to the websites onematch.ca in Canada, and bethematch.org in the United States.
If a perfect match isn't found and the transplant doesn't happen soon, Schwartz—a person revered by her teammates and coaches for her kindness and selflessness—will not make it to 23.
"I never heard her complain once," says Hilary Witt, the former Yale women's hockey coach. "You wonder how something like this can happen to someone who doesn't have a bad bone in her body."
My thoughts and prayers go out to the Schwartz family, and urge people to go and find out if they may indeed be a match.