Macomb, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Western Illinois University linebacker J.J. Veloz will be credited with more than an assist as he helps an infant tackle a rare immune disorder.
Veloz, a 20-year-old sophomore from Oak Creek, Wisconsin, will travel to his home state during the summer to donate bone marrow for a transplant to the ailing child.
WIU officials said Veloz signed up last year for the "Get in the Game" bone marrow registry drive on campus. Villanova football coach Andy Talley began the national initiative in 2008 to build the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry.
Veloz learned earlier this month he is a match. He doesn't know the infant or the family, and although they won't meet initially, Veloz hopes to do so in the future.
"I hope when people hear about my story, they feel inspired enough to go out and get registered," Veloz said. "You never know when you or someone you know will need help, and if you get a chance to help someone else, why wouldn't you? You have the opportunity to give the greatest gift, life, and I believe it is our duty as human beings to do whatever we can to make not only our lives, but others' lives better as well."
Grant Severs, the president and co-founder of Western Illinois' Be the Match chapter, said a patient's likelihood of finding a matching donor on the organization's registry is estimated from 66-93 percent. Each year, more than 12,000 patients are diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, such as leukemia, and the best hope for a cure is a marrow transplant.