CHICAGO (CBS) –– Cubs outfielder Matt Szczur was a standout football and baseball player at Villanova University in late 2009 when he decided to sign up for his coach’s bone marrow foundation, Be The Match.
“It was coach Tally’s program,” Szczur said. “All it is is a cheek swab. For me, it was a no-brainer.”
Soon after, he got a call that he was a perfect match for someone who needed a bone marrow transplant.
“When they tell you it’s a one in 80,000 chance, you don’t think you’re going to be called upon,” he said.
But he was.
“Once I found out it was a little girl from the Ukraine, I couldn’t believe it,” he said.
A little girl from the Ukraine was dying from leukemia. Szczur says he didn’t think twice about donating and underwent the procedure in May 2010.
“I put everything on hold to help save this little girl’s life because if it was my little girl, I would expect somebody to do it,” he said.
Five years later, that little girl is in remission. Szczur says he’d like to meet her someday and has made some attempts to find her, with no luck.
“It would be great for her to come to a game, them to fly out,” he said. “It would be unbelievable. I hope she’s doing well.”
At only 20 years old at the time, Szczur already knew the magnitude of what he was doing.
“Just makes you realize there is more to the world, more to life than just baseball,” he said.
Szczur has been up and down from the majors this season but says no matter what he does on the field, helping that little girl is still the greatest accomplishment of his life.
“Not too many people have the opportunity to save someone’s life,” he said.
He now uses that opportunity to inspire others.
Szczur was drafted in the 2007 amateur draft out of high school by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 38th round but decided to attend Villanova University instead. In 2011, he signed a $1.5 million deal with the Cubs. In August 2014, he was called up to the Cubs and made his major league debut the next day. He was optioned to Triple-A Iowa on July 5.