Mile Honorees

Miracle Match is about real stories and real people. We want you to know that when you are out on the course. Each Mile is dedicated to someone who has been touched by marrow and stem cell donation. Here are their stories:

2018 Mile Marker Honorees:

To nominate a mile marker honoree, please send an email to the race administrator at miraclematch2017@yahoo.com. Mile marker honorees must be someone having had a marrow or stem cell transplant, a donor of marrow or stem cells, someone searching for a match or a person or group who have been advocates of stem cell donation.

 Gabriella Ornelas

Gabriella Ornelas

Searching for a Match and 2018 Honorary Race Chair

Gabi Ornelas is from Temple. In 2015, she diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Gabi was in remission for two years and was doing well but her cancer has returned. She is searching the Be The Match Registry for her “Miracle Match” since she does not have a match in her family.
At Christmas, Gabi sat on Santa’s lap and asked for a miracle… for someone to donate their bone marrow and save her life. She asked Santa if he truly believed in miracles because she needed one. Gabi’s greatest wish is to find a donor to save her life. She truly is a miracle believer!

Tim Anderson

Tim Anderson

Stem Cell Donor

Tim Anderson is not only a Waco Fire Fighter and the producer of the Miracle Match Marathon finisher medals and award medals but he is also a peripheral blood stem cell donor. He donated several years ago through the Be The Match Registry. Tim hand cuts each of our finisher medals and award medals each year.

Casey Billingsley

Casey Billingsley

Stem Cell Donor

Casey joined the Be The Match Registry at a drive in Mexia while working as a phlebotomist in blood collections. She knew the importance of donating and was excited when contacted six years later about donating stem cells for a man with severe aplastic anemia.
She says she is grateful for this life-giving experience and that it’s truly life changing not only for the recipient, but for the donor as well.

Brian Thomas

Brian Thomas

Stem Cell Donor

Brian Thomas, a senior lecturer at Baylor University, donated stem cells many years ago. He continues to support the program and has spoken to several groups about his experience on the Baylor campus. His great uncle, Dr. Donnell Thomas, was a leader in the field of stem cell transplant research and won the Nobel Prize for his efforts.

Waco Wild West 100

Waco Wild West 100

Be The Match Advocate

The Waco Wild West 100 has been held in Waco for over 30 years. The hundreds of hours of work their volunteers put into the event has turned this rally ride into a true world-class biking event. As one of the organizations that benefit from the Waco Wild West 100, they have enabled the Central Texas Be The Match organization to educate central Texas communities about stem cell transplantation and add thousands of people to the Be The Match Registry.

Be The Match On Campus

Be The Match On Campus

The student organization, Be The Match On Campus, was organized at Texas A&M University in 2011 and at Baylor University in 2012. These students hold registration drives throughout the semester and work hard to educate their fellow students about the Be The Match Registry. Their efforts have resulted in hundreds of students on both campuses joining the registry. Over the past three years, several of these newly recruited volunteers have been asked to donate marrow or stem cells to patients searching for a match.

Joshua Burke

Joshua Burke

Stem Cell Donor

Joshua Burke registered online a couple of years ago hoping to give someone a chance at a better recovery over any issue they could have. He was found to be a match for a woman with leukemia within several months of joining the Registry. Josh donated his stem cells, giving her a second chance of life and many more months with her family.

Josh says, “The process through Be the Match is fantastic and easy. As I went through the process, I learned more about the patient and things they were going through. If the little bit of time I sacrificed to help this individual could help others, I would do it all over again without a doubt. It was an honor to be able to help change someone else’s life.”

Megan Dominguez

Megan Dominguez

Transplant Recipient

Megan Blair Dominguez was 23 years old when she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, which is uncommon for someone so young. A wife and mother, Megan underwent a stem cell transplant and finally achieved remission. She passed away the following year due to complications from treatment. Her family continues to remember Megan at Miracle Match by providing one of the rest stations in her honor.

Wade Durbin and Edith Huseman

Wade Durbin and Edith Huseman

Wade Durbin is a local Fire Fighter who has been involved with the Miracle Match Marathon since the very beginning. He is involved because his sister, Edith Huseman, has been fighting leukemia for many years and may need a marrow or stem cell transplant. Thank you, Wade, for all you do to help keep our runners safe!

Bill Goss

Bill Goss

Transplant Recipient

Although having to fight cancer is no strange task, having to depend on someone else to save your life gives dependency a new meaning. At a regular post-melanoma cancer check-up, Bill Goss’ physician did not like the way some of his blood work looked. Within a few days came the diagnosis “leukemia.” What stood out the most to Bill and his wife, Sandy, was the sentence “and you may have nine months to two years to live without a stem cell transplant”. To feel and look totally healthy yet be told your life most likely will end in a short time without a stem cell transplant speaks volumes as to why the Be The Match Registry needs as many donors as possible.

Going through the whole process of locating a match (Bill’s son was his donor), receiving the stem cells to post transplantation protocol gave the Goss family a bird’s eye view on how important every job is regarding this life saving project. It is truly a miracle to witness and experience. Miracle Match Marathons are the necessary and first leg of the race for life.

Bryan Harrison

Bryan Harrison

Stem Cell Donor

Bryan Harrison registered to be a donor at the Be The Match Registry drive for Susan Wehmeyer. A year later, Bryan learned that he was a match for a man that he had never met who had Myelodysplastic syndrome. It was a powerful experience and Bryan was honored to donate stem cells for the man who was battling this disease. Bryan has also supported the program in several ways, including helping at drives and as a finisher of both the half-marathon and the marathon. He would encourage everyone to get involved and make a difference with Be The Match!

Marty Harvill

Marty Harvill

Stem Cell Donor

Dr. Marty Harvill is a professor at Baylor University in the Science department. He donated stem cells several years ago, and continues to support the program by supporting the students at Baylor who work tirelessly to increase the number of donors on the registry through the Be The Match On Campus Baylor University.

Riece Hulett

Riece Hulett

Stem Cell Donor

“I joined the registry in October 2016 on Texas A&M’s campus when the MAZE magic show, sponsored by Be The Match, performed there. The magician’s story was very moving to me, he was a patient depending on a bone marrow donation. I joined the registry because I felt that if I was in need of a bone marrow or stem cell transplant, I would want my match to be on the registry, so me being on the registry felt like paying it forward.

I donated my stem cells to a 65-year-old man with leukemia. In the donation process, I didn’t feel like I had to do much in order to make a life-saving difference for my recipient. All I had to do was sit in a chair while they were extracting my stem cells, but still I got appreciation from my friends and people from church. It felt very gratifying.”

Emily Iazzetti

Emily Iazzetti

Stem Cell Donor

Emily Iazzetti joined the registry when she ran the Miracle Match Half Marathon in 2007. In 2011, she matched with a patient in the Northwest region of the US and was able to donate stem cells to help his recovery. Emily shared her donation process in a piece on KWTX-TV, helping to raise awareness about the registry. Emily is now a community volunteer and mother of two children.

Jeanie Sides Johnson

Jeanie Sides Johnson

Marrow Transplant Recipient

Jeanie is not only the assistant superintendent for Administrative Services at the Midway ISD, but is also a marrow transplant survivor. Jeanie’s donor was her sister, Claire Sides Northcut. Jeanie and her family were always aware that not everyone finds a matched donor. Because of that, they have continually supported the Miracle Match Marathon, hosting the “Sunny Sides” rest stop each year. Jeanie also started the district’s running and training program which encourages involvement in many local races.

Jeanie unfortunately relapsed with the cancer, but was able to have a second transplant with her brother as her donor. She is recovering and hopes to be back at school soon. Jeanie is an inspiration to us all, but says her inspiration is from her sibling’s willingness to donate.

Scott McAllister

Scott McAllister

Stem Cell Donor

Dr. Scott McAllister is a professor of Music at Baylor University. He was a matched donor several years ago and donated stem cells to give to a woman with myelodysplastic syndrome a second chance.

Mary O’Connor

Mary O’Connor

Patient, Runner and Miracle Match Advocate

A mother of two, a runner, a wife, a friend. Mary O’Connor was diagnosed with ovarian cancer several years ago. Throughout the years of procedures and treatments, she continued to run and live her life to the fullest because of the support of her family, her friends, her community, and most of all, because of her faith. As a supporter of the Miracle Match Marathon for many years, we honor the memory of Mary and the hope she provides all of us every single day. Never give up. Stay the course. Keep the faith.

Christina Perez

Christina Perez

Marrow Donor

Christina signed up with Be The Match in 2014 for a co-worker who had leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant. Just this past year, she got the call saying she was a match for a little boy needing a transplant. Christina donated bone marrow for this child and said her experience was wonderful, from her case coordinator, to the hospital staff, doctors and nurses. She was able to get an update on her recipient and he is doing well. She also said she would definitely do it again if needed.

Kayla Reitenga

Kayla Reitenga

Two Time Cancer Fighter and Survivor

“I was diagnosed with Leukemia in February of 2016. I had four months of chemo, radiation, blood transfusions and surgery. It was a struggle to find a transplant donor. They decided to use my sister even though she was only a half match. My sister donated her stem cells to me and saved my life for the first time. It was a rough few months but I was cancer free for eleven months. My best friend and I ran the Miracle Match Marathon 5K in 2017 to celebrate my remission and she also signed up for the Be The Match Registry. She very badly wanted to help me out so she’ll jump at the chance to donate for anyone.

I relapsed in April and my saved my life for the second time. I was then back in remission and I turned 27 cancer-free. My best friend and I are running the Miracle Match Marathon 10K in 2018. It’s our annual race. Before cancer I never really exercised or was too healthy but that has all changed. Now, I like to do 5Ks and take better care of my body. I never thought cancer could touch me – I don’t think anyone does. You get a new outlook on life and every day is precious.”

Greg Martin

Greg Martin

Stem Cell Donor

Greg Martin registered in 2004 at a drive at Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center where he works. He came up as a match several years after he registered and donated stem cells to a young man with lymphoma.

Jillian Hurdt

Jillian Hurdt

Stem Cell Donor

Jillian registered with Be The Match at a drive at Texas A&M several years ago. About the time she moved to Waco, she also came up as a match for a woman with leukemia. She donated stem cells to this patient a little more than a year ago giving this woman a chance for a leukemia-free future.

Kevin Fisk

Kevin Fisk

Stem Cell Donor

Kevin is a past Waco Fire Fighter and stem cell donor. After donating his stem cells several years ago, he wanted to become more involved. Kevin joined the Lone Star Circle of Life Bike team many years ago to help spread the word throughout the state about the need for donors and served as team captain for two of those years. He has also worked tirelessly for many years for Miracle Match.

Sandi Lane

Sandi Lane

Stem Cell Donor

Sandi joined the registry over ten years ago. She came up as a match for a man in Europe with myelodysplastic syndrome last year and donated peripheral blood stem cells to give him a second chance of life.

Rita Spinks

Rita Spinks

Stem Cell Donor

Rita now lives in Waco, but joined the registry at a recruitment drive 14 years ago in San Saba at the high school. She came up as a match for a young man in Europe who had leukemia. Although it has not been a year since the donation, so far Rita’s recipient is doing well.

Joseph Villa

Joseph Villa

Stem Cell Donor

Joseph joined the Be The Match Registry at a drive held by Waco’s Camp Gladiator in 2014. A year later, he was contacted to see if he would be a donor for this man with acute leukemia. Joseph donated his peripheral blood stem cells giving him a second chance of life.

Jennifer Sexton

Jennifer Sexton

Stem Cell donor

Jennifer because of her advocacy for Be The Match and for her donation of peripheral Blood Stem Cells to a woman with acute leukemia. Jennifer joined the Be The Match Registry at a drive on the Baylor campus sponsored by the Be The Match On Campus-Baylor group which she is a member of. A very short time after joining, she was contacted to see if she would be a donor for this woman in need. Thank you, Jennifer, for your wonderful gift of life and for helping put even more donors on the registry!

Cindy Connell

Cindy Connell

Transplant Recipient

Cindy Connell was a recipient of a stem cell transplant in 2011. While Cindy was searching for a match, her family and friends held numerous drives to grow the registry. They continue to support the program by educating others about the importance of being a stem cell donor and the ease of joining the registry. Cindy passed away in 2012 and her family continues to honor her by their support of increasing the registry and the Miracle Match Marathon.

Philip Voan

Philip Voan

Transplant Recipient

Philip was in a major accident in May of 2016. During the hospital visit for the accident, blood work came back with abnormalities and he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Philip had a stem cell transplant in August of that year. He and his family are very thankful for all who join the Be The Match Registry and for those who have saved lives donating stem cells and marrow.

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