23rd annual Meadows Turkey Bowl in Medina raises bone marrow donor awareness and a lot of money

Friend of the game needs bone marrow trasnplant

MEDINA, Ohio - The organizer of the Meadows Turkey Bowl, Mike Meadows, likes to say the annual backyard football game is about giving back .

This year, the group of more than 40 Thanksgiving warriors, broke the event's record by raising $126,000 for the St. Vincent DePaul Society, a Catholic organization that gives to the needy regardless of faith.

Last year, $125,000 was collected through donations. Thursday's game marked the 23rd year for the event, where two football fields are lined behind the Meadows family home on Hood Road in Medina.

"Why it's important to us is that the economy has changed. The face of the needy has changed and no longer is it someone with a pan in the streets of Cleveland. It's our neighbor. It's our friends," Meadows said.

This year, the game also focused awareness on the need for bone marrow donors.

A friend of the turkey bowl, Randy McCoy, has multiple myeloma, a cancer that starts in the bone marrow and affects the plasma cells. McCoy, a married father of two boys, needs a bone marrow transplant.

McCoy, 42, and a 1988 graduate of Medina High School, has been in the Ohio Air National Guard for 18 years and pilots C-130 transport planes.

"In March, they discovered a tumor in his chest while he was on duty in Afghanistan," said family friend, Vanessa Swank.

McCoy, who now lives in Lexington, Ohio, is currently on leave from the military.

On Thursday, Swank, a volunteer for the national marrow donor program, sat at a table and encouraged players and spectators to swab their cheeks and sign up to get on the registry.

Swank said awareness is critical and stressed that only one percent of those who register actually go on to donate.

"Everyone knows someone with cancer and if you have the opportunity to be a cure for that person, then I'm sure you would do it," Swank said.

Jason Nemeth, a friend of McCoy's since childhood, played in the game and said he's also signing up to be a potential donor.

"I think the amazing thing about the turkey bowl is it gives all of us an opportunity to defend the defenseless, just to open the doors to help people like Randy that maybe we would have never known about," Nemeth said.

Meadows also emphasized the importance of coming to the aid of man who defends our country.

"He's like us. We talk about face. We look in the mirror and he's just like us. He's like a turkey bowler, so that's why it hit home for us for sure," Meadows said.

Swank said McCoy is waiting on a clinical trial through the Cleveland Clinic, where he could get a stem cell transplant.

"He has a long battle ahead of him, but the way I know Randy, he's going to tackle it and hit it head on," Nemeth said.

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