CARLISLE, Ohio – How mighty was the support for the “Mighty Matthew Blood Drive” March 8 at Carlisle High School? Enough to fill the donor beds, and see students lining up to buy snow cones during a snow squall to help a fifth-grader in his fight against blood disease.
The Carlisle community has rallied for months behind 10-year old Matthew Harrison and his family as he undergoes treatment for leukemia. He earned a nickname for his toughness, especially during a month-long hospital stay to fight off a liver infection. “They always say ‘Might Matthew’ because he likes super heroes,” said CHS Senior Class President Jacob Gill.
CHS hosts two Community Blood Center blood drives a year and the Student Council thought it was a natural fit to dedicate the spring blood drive to Matthew. It was an odd fit to see the tropical-colored “Kona Ice” truck on campus selling snow cones during a sudden blast of winter weather. But students braved the chill knowing Kona was donating half of all sales to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
“He appreciates it,” said Matthew’s brother Noah, a sophomore at CHS. He said Matthew is determined to get well, get back to school and “He’s trying to get into golf!”
Noah’s classmates Meghan Minton and Luke Plummer turned 16 in time to be eligible to make their first donations at the “Mighty Matthew” blood drive. “Because this is a good cause,” said Luke as he sat with Noah in the Donor Café.
“I was really nervous,” said Meghan. “At first I wasn’t going to do it, and I found out who it was for. My little sister Mikayla is in Matthew’s grade.”
“We have a wait list,” said Jacob about sign-ups for the blood drive. “This one is jam packed.”
“It definitely upped the interest,” said blood drive coordinator and Student Council faculty advisor Samantha Lee. “When we did the one for Zach it filled up too.”
The students donating for Matthew Thursday were in grade school when CHS hosted the 2013 “Zeus Soldiers Blood Drive” in memory of student-athlete Zach “Zeus” Richards two months after he lost his battle against leukemia. Students collected teddy bears for young hospital patients as a tribute to Zach.
Matthew’s long hospitalization was a serious set-back, but CHS responded with a surge of support at the Jan. 19 basketball game against Preble-Shawnee High School. “We had a bucket for financial donations and raised over $1,000,” said Jacob. “We had a ‘green out’ for him. That’s his favorite color and everyone wore green, even the other team wore green for him.”
“My brother goes to the middle school and they had fundraisers for him,” said Sophomore Class President Ande Allison. There was also a football game tribute in the fall, with a fundraising raffle and the players signing a game ball for Matthew.
Some of the most personal tributes now come from students donating in his honor. Senior Macie Baker has been a CHS donor since her sophomore year. She made her fifth lifetime donation at the blood drive for “Mighty Matthew” and said, “I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss it today.”