Around the Region

Kasper is the Match for Oshkosh

Brett Kasper and UW-Oshkosh have been on fire the past three games.
UW-Oshkosh athletics photo

On the gridiron, UW-Oshkosh quarterback Brett Kasper uses his arm to help his team vanquish opponents. Off the field, he used his bone marrow to help a child fight cancer.

When the UW-Oshkosh football and baseball teams became involved with the Be the Match organization, Kasper was identified as a suitable donor. He seized the opportunity to help and underwent a procedure this winter to have bone marrow extracted.

The hope is that an 8-year-old girls fighting leukemia will get a second chance at life.

“I was pretty much all in. I wasn’t really expecting to get picked,” Kasper said. “But once I did get picked, I was more than excited to go ahead and go along with the donation.”

“He’s pretty solid on the football field, and he’s a pretty solid human being,” UW-Oshkosh head coach Pat Cerroni said of his quarterback. “It didn’t shock me at all that he went into this thing 100 percent.”

Kasper and the Titans became involved with Be the Match when Villanova football coach Andy Talley was reaching out to other teams to help. From there, Kelli VanderWielen – the Be the Match rep in Wisconsin’s Fox Valley region – got in contact with UW-Oshkosh’s football and baseball teams.

“I didn’t know what it was, to be completely honest,” Cerroni said.

Volunteers get their mouths swabbed to see if their DNA matches a patient’s. If someone is picked, they proceed with a blood test to check for a more precise match. If a match is found, that volunteer can donate.

“We’ve had at least four guys on the baseball team and the football team get picked for the first stage,” Cerroni explained. “One of my student-coaches just got contacted to give blood.”

Kasper had his mouth swabbed during the spring of 2014 during a donor registry drive on campus. He went through with the blood draw later that fall and was informed he was a match in December.

“I was actually in the library studying for finals, and I got the call saying they were going to go through with me and set up a donation,” Kasper said.

Provided photo

There are two ways to donate. A donor can take medication that draws what doctors need from bone marrow into the blood stream. Then it is extracted in a similar way to drawing blood. The other process,...

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Josh Smith photo

Josh Smith has covered Division III sports for more than five years. He writes for multiple publications, including beginning in 2012. He has won multiple awards for reporting and photography and lives in southern Wisconsin near UW-Whitewater, where he graduated with a degree in print journalism.

2011-12 columns: Jason Galleske
2010: Tim Walsh
2003-09: Adam Johnson
1999-2000: Don Stoner 


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