Billy Allison is a 65-year-old Missouri resident who thought he would lose his fight with stage-four leukemia last year.
Dillon Gasper is a Baylor junior who ran in the 2012 Waco Miracle Match Marathon and decided to sign up to be a bone marrow donor after the event.
What transpired over the last year and a half changed both of their lives and led to an emotional meeting last month at Baylor. Months after the race ended, Gasper was told he was a genetic match for a patient in need. His donation of bone marrow saved Billy Allison’s life.
“I thought the party was over,” Allison told the Waco Tribune-Herald. “With my age, I figured I’d have a hard time getting a match. Dillon gave me some time.”
Allison and Gasper met for the first time late last month at Baylor with the help of Be The Match, an organization that connects patients with donor matches that save lives. The tear-filled meeting at Roxy Grove Hall gave both the patient and donor the chance to express their joy in person. (That’s the pair pictured above in a photo by the Waco Trib’s Jerry Larson.)
Allison and his girlfriend gave Gasper a gold watch to symbolize the extra time Dillon gave them.The marrow recipient’s words were simple and profound: “I told him I loved him.”
Gasper, in turn, is working to help other patients by getting Baylor students involved. He formed a Be The Match chapter here at Baylor to recruit more college-age donors, whose stem cells are healthier than those of older donors. Approximately 100 students registered at the event — students who might someday have their own life-changing stories to share.
Sic ’em, Dillon and Billy!