A World Baseball Champion Is Utilizing NFTs to Assist Save Lives


When World Collection champion Matt Szczur joined a bone marrow registry in 2007 as a freshman in faculty, he didn’t assume a lot of it. On the time, Szczur (pronounced like “Caesar”) was taking part in soccer for Villanova College. His coach, the legendary Andy Talley, inspired him to become involved with a company known as Be The Match. As its title implies, the group matches bone marrow donors with recipients and raises cash to assist these affected by life-threatening blood cancers, like leukemia and lymphoma, to offer essential remedy.

“I believed I’d check [to be a match], and if I get a name, nice,” Szczur stated in an interview with nft now. “If not, it’s what it’s.”

Fifteen years in the past, the possibilities of matching a donor to a recipient weren’t what they’re at the moment. Bone marrow and rope blood unit donor-recipient pairing depends on matching human leukocyte antigen (HLA) varieties, one thing a affected person’s ethnic background performs a distinguished function in predicting. The extra folks within the registry, the bigger the probabilities are of discovering matches for folks in want.

Szczur put it out of his thoughts till the autumn of 2009 when he received a name from the Be The Match registry telling him that they had discovered a recipient for his bone marrow sort. “It was proper in the midst of playoffs,” Szczur continued. “I went and spoke with Talley, and he put his head down and stated, ‘Matt, I do know you’re going to do the correct factor.’”

That match was a younger woman named Anastasia Volkovskaya from Ukraine, whose docs recognized her with leukemia simply three months after being born. “Medical doctors instructed us that she wants a transplant,” defined Volkovskaya’s father Ivan in an ESPN video on Szczur’s journey to changing into a donor produced for the sports-magazine broadcast sequence E:60. “However in Ukraine, they don’t do that. They stated, ‘Take care of it.’”

Volkovskaya’s dad and mom stored looking for methods to save lots of their daughter, ultimately discovering a clinic in Israel that would present the transplant — if they might discover a matching donor. They discovered one in Szczur who was a one hundred pc match. On Could 4, 2010, Szczur donated his bone marrow in a peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) process, a non-surgical operation through which docs separate a affected person’s blood-forming cells from the remainder of the blood for bone marrow transplants.

It might take some time earlier than Szczur realized exactly to whom he had donated. Confidentiality practices hold donors from studying the id of recipients they match with for not less than a yr after the process. It deeply moved him when he lastly realized Anatasia’s id and received involved along with her and her household.

“I bear in mind prefer it was yesterday after I received the e-mail from Be The Match about who she was and the place she’s from,” Szczur stated. “After I was lastly in a position to get involved along with her — it was very emotional. I now have a son who’s three. I understood the significance of [donating] then, however now, you understand, I’d do something on the planet to assist my son, and I’m positive that’s how [ Volkovskaya’s parents] felt.”

Volkovskaya’s dad and mom’ appreciation for what Szczur did is aware of no bounds. “This man gave life not simply to 1 child, he gave life to a complete household,” stated Anatasia’s mom Marina in ESPN’s E:60 video.

Utilizing NFTs to lift consciousness and save lives

All through his life, Szczur has engaged with artwork in a technique or one other. Whether or not sitting subsequent to his father as a toddler and watching him make colourful bucktails (anglers’ lures historically created from deer hair) or experimenting with portray as a strategy to decompress from the stresses of being an athlete, it’s part of life from which he by no means appreciated to stray very far.

After happening to play for Main League Baseball and successful the World Collection with the Chicago Cubs in 2016, Szczur and his spouse Natalie began a non-profit basis devoted to philanthropy and charity. To lift consciousness for the muse, Szczur determined to color two self-portraits and public sale them at an occasion the couple held in his hometown of Cape Could, New Jersey. Each offered for $500. Cubs’ administration later reached out to fee Szczur to make a portray of the workforce’s World Collection win, which the group offered for $40,000.

Szczur’s curiosity and involvement in NFTs would comply with quickly after. Through the pandemic in 2020, fellow MLB participant Micah Johnson reached out to Szczur to ask if he wished to collaborate on an NFT mission. “I had learn concerning the blockchain, however I had no concept what it was,” ​​Szczur stated. “I knew a bit of bit about Bitcoin, however I’d by no means heard of Ethereum. I trusted Micah as a result of he was a baseball participant, and I knew he was a grinder. I revered him.”

“It doesn’t get extra actual than somebody who really donated and saved the lifetime of one other human being.”

Alex Mensing, BE THE MATCH SPOKESPERSON

Johnson instructed making a portrait of George Floyd, and the 2 break up the portrait in half, every depicting their facet of Floyd in their very own type. The restricted version piece offered out on Nifty Gateway in underneath six minutes, and the 2 used the funds raised from the portray to donate to initiatives devoted to preventing injustices within the Black neighborhood.

Szczur has continued to develop into the world of crypto artwork, creating items that collectors can purchase on OpenSea, Nifty Gateway, and SuperRare. His paintings ceaselessly options bones and skeletons, which displays the attention he’s making an attempt to lift about bone marrow donations.

Be The Match NFT public sale

Having lengthy wished to work with Be The Match, Szczur discovered a golden alternative to take action when a pal who had contacts on the bone marrow registry requested if he wished to collaborate with the group earlier this yr.

Szczur and Be The Match are releasing two separate NFTs on Nifty Gateway within the coming days and weeks to lift consciousness and cash for the registry. The primary is an open version piece known as Be The Match that drops on Friday, August 26, and might be obtainable on the market for 48 hours. Editions begin at $150 every. A second, limited-edition NFT drop can even be obtainable by a 48-hour public sale on Thursday,  September 8, which Szczur says might be a distinct tackle his earlier skeleton and bone-themed NFT creations.

through Be The Match

Half of all of the proceeds from the NFT gross sales will go towards the Be The Match Basis to assist sufferers on the lookout for a donor and add extra potential donors to their registry.

“That is Be The Match’s first expertise within the NFT house,” defined Alex Mensing, a Be The Match spokesperson in an interview with nft now. “A partnership with Matt was a no brainer. He’s been spreading consciousness about bone marrow donations by his NFTs already, it’s one thing he’s tremendous obsessed with. It doesn’t get extra actual than somebody who really donated and saved the lifetime of one other human being. That’s our mission.”

One of many causes each Mensing and Szczur are excited to make use of NFTs as a strategy to unfold consciousness of the registry is as a result of HLA varieties largely decide who can and might’t match. The extra various the registry, the higher the possibilities of these matches really occurring.

“I can say in all honesty that NFTs modified my life.”

MLB World Champion Matt Szczur

“Proper now, you see a disparity within the registry based mostly on the ethnic range of the affected person who’s looking out,” elaborated Mensing. “So at the moment, a affected person who’s white or Caucasian has a 79 % likelihood of discovering a match on our registry. However Black or African American affected person has solely a 29 % likelihood of discovering a match. And so we’re doing loads of recruitment to get extra folks to affix the registry. And now we have probably the most various registry on the planet. It’s simply nonetheless not various sufficient to fulfill all the affected person want that exists.”

Szczur’s pleasure for and dedication to the trigger he’s devoted the final decade to are admirable. Regardless of the maligned status folks typically attribute to NFTs and cryptocurrencies, he’s adamant about their skill to do good on the planet.

through Be The Match

“I can say in all honesty that NFTs modified my life,” Szczur stated. “From prime to backside. I had no concept what I used to be going to do after I completed [playing] baseball. So, the transition from baseball to actual life was helped a lot by NFTs. I do know persons are skeptical about it, and so they have the correct to be. Cryptocurrency is so risky. However they modified my life. I’m grateful for the house.”

The previous MLB world champion is much more grateful for the prospect to make use of the know-how to unfold consciousness a few trigger through which he firmly believes. His expertise as a Be The Match donor is one thing he says will keep on with him his whole life.

“They’re actually saving lives,” Szczur emphasised. “All people says there’s no treatment for most cancers, however right here we’re doing this, and no one actually hears about it. So, I proceed to push for this treatment and for bone marrow consciousness. I’ll proceed to push this as a result of I noticed the affect that it had on my life and the affect it had on this household’s life.”  

These trying to help the muse’s efforts and assist save lives can add their names to Be The Match’s bone marrow registry right here.



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