We all have goals, big dreams we are set on achieving. Some of us have been working towards fulfilling these dreams for much of our youth and young adult lives. Years of heeding advice and encouragement from parents, mentors and friends, all telling us to put 100% of ourselves into making “it” happen. So what if after all those years of hard work and dedication, you were told you could live out those dreams or you could save someone’s life? What would you do? For some it may be a difficult decision, but for Cameron Lyle, there was never any debate.
Lyle, a 21-year-old college senior and Division I track and field star at the University of New Hampshire, was added to the national bone marrow registry a couple years ago when he had his mouth swabbed at an event in the school cafeteria. A gesture that seemed like no big deal at the time would result in a life changing phone call that took place a few short months ago. After originally being told there was a one in five million chance that he would match with anyone outside of his immediate family, he did just that; a few simple tests would prove that Lyle was a perfect match for a 28-year-old suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Upon receiving his test results, the man referred to as a “gentle giant” immediately agreed to the transplant without hesitation or a moment’s thought to his athletic career. Before his mind could wander to the effects this would have on him personally, Lyle simply said, “Okay, cool. I’m definitely going to do it.”
Despite this modern day hero’s conviction, the decision to move forward with the surgery would have a significant impact on his life. Post-transplant, Lyle will be unable to lift more than 20 pounds over his head, ruling out any further participation in his events, the shot put and hammer throw. As a college senior approaching the America East Conference championship, this would effectively end both his season and his collegiate career prematurely. However, not even the realization that his season was coming to an end would cause the track and field star to consider changing his mind.
Naturally, Lyle’s nerves set in when it came time to confess his decision to both his blood and track families. It goes without saying, though, that Lyle’s family members and coach are proud beyond words of his decision to forgo the end of his season, ultimately saving a young man’s life. While the thought of telling his mother and mentor was the only difficult part for Lyle, their responses prove that they already knew what an exceptional person their son and star athlete had become. Upon hearing the news, coach Boulanger said, “I never had any doubt that he’s very compassionate and it was just a given that he’d do it. You can’t ask for any more out of a person than to help another person.”
A child’s exceptional kindness and a coach’s sincere pride can only be topped by a mother’s reaction, one that helps us understand the woman who fostered such heartwarming consideration for others. When asked about her son’s decision, Chris Sciacca said, “I am beyond words proud. He is my hero. When your children inspire you to be better people, you know it’s come full circle.” It goes without saying that Sciacca’s son has inspired an entire nation and is the type of person we should be honoring with the title of hero.
The only thing more astonishing than the New Hampshire shotputter’s immense kindness is his steadfastness in regards to his decision, a faith that lasted through his surgery Wednesday morning; he never wavered in his belief that there was truly no conclusion that needed to be reached. “It was kind of a no-brainer for a decent human.” Lyle stated. “You go to the conference and take 12 throws or you could give a man three or four more years of life. I don’t think there’s a big question here. This is not a moral dilemma. There’s only one answer.”
Being a donor in any capacity is quite possibly one of the most generous and selfless acts that we can commit as human beings, often times resulting in the gift of life. Lyle, regardless of his efforts to downplay the situation and his decision, resolved to not only act as a donor, but to put the dreams and goals he had for himself and his athletic career aside to help fulfill a complete stranger’s dream of winning his battle against leukemia. For this extraordinary young man, the answer may have been simple, but it was an answer that many in his shoes may not have given. Whether fate, luck, medicine or a happy combination of the three are to thank for Lyle’s against-all-odds medical match, his uninhibited kindness and selflessness are certainly what make him the perfect match. Such willingness to grant a stranger tremendous love and kindness in the face of great personal sacrifice is something unexplainable through science.
Cameron Lyle, your altruism has proven that kindness is a key component in ridding the world of unexplainable sickness and hurt and your heart of gold has shown us all that you are, without a doubt, one in five million.
Feature Image via ABC News.