Matt Szczur certainly seems to have it all; a loving wife, a career in professional baseball, a World Series ring, and to top it off, he and Natalie recently began setting-up household in the self-proclaimed America’s Finest City of San Diego, California.
The former Chicago Cub and current San Diego Padre, Szczur (pronounced: Cesare) certainly gives the appearance of someone who’s living quite the charmed life. Yet what many are unaware of is the role he played in saving the life of Ukrainian toddler Anastasia Olkhovsky.
Out of Cape May, NJ, Szczur attended Villanova University on a double football/baseball scholarship. It was there the student-athlete drew the interest of both MLB and NFL scouts.
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But as it turned out, in 2009 he saddled-up with the school’s football coach Andy Talley’s favorite charity; volunteering to be tested as possible bone-marrow matches for those suffering from leukemia.
As the Chicago Tribune reported in September of 2016;
Szczur was a match. A 1-in-80,000 long shot.
The end of football season and the beginning of baseball season had come and gone by the time Szczur received another call, informing him that the condition of the potential recipient had worsened. That they needed his bone marrow ASAP.
That the exhausting, three-hour procedure was performed a month before the Cubs picked him in the fifth round of the 2010 June draft mattered not to Szczur. That he wasn’t sure about the side effects of neupogen, a drug he took to increase blood-stem cells, wasn’t a deterrent. That his spleen could have ruptured wasn’t a problem.
“Did it put his baseball career in jeopardy? Who knows?” said Talley. “The guy is a hero. Matt was very adamant about doing it. He knew he could miss the rest of the (baseball) season, which tells you what kind of person he is.”
Even though the little girl was a stranger and it would be a year before he talked to her and her family because of confidentially rules, her story hit close to Szczur’s heart. One of his best friends had leukemia.
In May of 2011, [he] learned that the transplant had been successful.
Seen in the video below, Szczur has never had the opportunity to meet the Olkhovsky family until 2013, and even then it was via Skype.