Puck Daddy - NHL

Among the facts and figures on the website for Yale University women's hockey team is a curious image: a toddler dressed as a superhero.

But it's just the sort of thing those fighting to keep Mandi Schwartz alive hope will create interest in her story and help locate her savior.

Schwartz, 22, is a junior center for the Yale University women's ice hockey team. She's also battling acute myeloid leukemia, discovering in April that her cancer had returned after being in remission since May 2009.

Which brings us back to that superhero toddler. It's a symbol that defines the international movement in the hockey, medical and social media worlds that's attempting to save Mandi Schwartz's life.

At issue: That she's of Ukrainian, Russian and German descent, making a bone marrow match difficult. Her chances of survival increase with a cord-blood stem-cell transplant from a pregnant woman of a similar heritage. Schwartz could be headed from a hospital in Saskatchewan to one in Seattle in the hopes that she receives a transplant within the next 30 days.

She needs a new life to help save hers, and thousands of people are coming together from across the globe to help make that happen.

According to News 8 in Connecticut, Yale Cancer Researcher Dr. Tedd Collins helped ignite the campaign through his "Become My Hero" organization, which encourages pregnant women around the world to donate the blood from their baby's umbilical cord during birth.

There are several social media outlets for this campaign as well. From Yale's hockey website:

Among other elements, Collins' approach included starting a "Become Mandi's Hero" Facebook group (accessible at http://www.BecomeMandisHero.net), and offering incentives for people to use their status updates to help raise awareness of Mandi's need for a donor. Dr. Collins posts regular updates there, and also answers questions from those looking to help. He also established a Twitter account, http://www.twitter.com/MandisHeroes

The Facebook page dedicated to finding a donor for Schwartz has over 3,500 fans and is updated with news about the campaign and her condition.  Most importantly, it offers information on becoming a cord blood or bone marrow donor; donating already-stored cord blood; and raising funds to support Schwartz's cord blood collection.

What is it about Schwartz that's resonated with people around the world to help her fight to live?

David Whitley, a columnist for AOL FanHouse, wrote an in-depth feature on her family and her battle with cancer:

The hunt is also on for a bone-marrow donor. Brennan Turner, a family friend and minor-league hockey player, has organized eight registration drives across Canada in the next five weeks. There have also been fundraisers, thousands of e-mails and a Facebook campaign. All for a girl who's hooked to a breathing machine and wondering one thing.

No, it's not "why me?"

"She wonders why people are doing all this for me?" said her father, Rick Schwartz.

There are a lot of reasons. Mandi's Ivy-League smart. She's hockey tough. She's apparently never said a bad thing about anybody. And despite those reasons she remains the kind of person who wonders why people think she's anything special.

When Mandi returned to Yale after her first trip through cancer hell, she immediately tried to skate, lift weights and train just like her teammates. "This girl had gone through so much, but she wasn't going to ease her way back into it," Clarke said. "She didn't want to waste a day. That was really inspirational to all of us."

Here's Schwartz in an interview from January, talking about her brief return to Yale:

She fought so she could play hockey again. Those inspired by Mandi Schwartz have joined that fight, too; and the outpouring of generosity and their tireless efforts to find a stem-cell match have given her a chance to win this fight.

From Yale Athletics, Mandi's story and how you can help her survive:

Visit Become Mandi's Hero for more. 

Other stories on the Yahoo! network:
NBA player's touching move
Best places to raise a family
Natural ways to feel happier

Related Articles

Puck Daddy

Add to My Yahoo RSS

Related Photo Gallery

Y! Sports Blog