August 19, 2010

Mandi Schwartz Update: Yale Teammate Samantha MacLean Plans 500-Mile “Ride for 17”

Bike Ride from Toronto to New Haven will Raise Awareness, Funds

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – In support of teammate Mandi Schwartz (Wilcox, Sask.) in her battle against cancer, rising senior defenseman Samantha MacLean (Mississauga, Ont.) will return to school this year by biking from Toronto to New Haven. "The Ride for 17" (Mandi's uniform number), which will start on Aug. 22 and take five days, is designed to raise awareness of the need for life-saving bone marrow donors and umbilical cord blood donors for patients like Mandi. It will also serve as a fundraiser. MacLean, Yale's captain, will cover more than 500 miles.

"Mandi always puts others ahead of herself and keeps a positive attitude in every situation," MacLean said. "She is a great friend and is always willing to help others in need."

MacLean will be biking through the Niagara region. She will cross Niagara Falls at the Rainbow Bridge border crossing and then connect with the Erie Canal bike trail, which she will be on for the majority of the trip, in New York. Her total distance covered will be 512 miles. Along the way to New Haven she will pass through Rochester, Syracuse, Utica and Albany.

Mandi, 22 years old, has been battling acute myeloid leukemia since December of 2008. She is scheduled to be discharged from the hospital Thursday, having completed a round of chemotherapy. She will be tested in a few weeks to see if her cancer is in remission for the third time, since she needs to be in remission in order to receive the stem cell transplant that is planned for her. The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, including the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, is overseeing her treatment.

Mandi is scheduled to receive a stem cell transplant using umbilical cord blood once she is back in remission. In addition to raising awareness among pregnant women of the value of umbilical cord blood donation, Mandi's Yale teammates have also been hosting bone marrow donor registration drives. There have been two drives in New Haven that have added more than 1,600 potential donors to the National Marrow Donor Program's "Be The Match" registry. Additionally, former Yale men's hockey player Brennan Turner '09 (Foam Lake, Sask.) has organized a series of drives in Canada that have added more than 2,600 people to Canadian Blood Services' "OneMatch" registry.

MacLean has started a website, http://www.welovemandi.webs.com/, where she will chronicle her trip. Supporters can make on-line donations for Mandi's cause there.

In addition to MacLean's efforts, the Yale Hockey Association turned part of its annual Murray Murdoch Golf Outing into a fundraiser for Mandi. At Monday's outing "Mulligans for Mandi", along with the chance to win double raffle tickets, were on sale at the ninth hole. The Association also auctioned off a Boston Bruins jersey autographed by several Hall of Famers at the dinner. A total of more than $2,000 was raised.

For further information about how you can help, visit http://www.yalebulldogs.com/mandi

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity