Few college basketball players will ever step foot on a Final Four Court. One of those elite alums visited the Valley for the Final Four, but the message he brings transcends basketball.
“Six years ago Andrew and I were in the Final Four together. Now he's no longer with us,” said Chase Stigall, a former guard for the Butler Bulldogs.
Stigall played beside Andrew Smith when the Butler Bulldogs went to the Final Four and played for the championship in back-to-back years in 2010 and 2011.
After college, Andrew developed Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a form of cancer that originates in the lymphatic system.
“Andrew never thought about himself,” Stigall said.
That’s exactly how Andrew attacked his cancer. Even with death at his doorstep, Andrew and his wife started Project 44 — based on his basketball number.
It’s a drive to sign-up enough bone morrow donors to save the lives of 44 people fighting lymphoma. Statistically, 19,000 people have to sign up to find enough matches for 44 people.
Andrew died in January of last year, but Stigall is fighting on and that’s what brought him to the Valley for the Final Four.
“I was able to donate to a 2-year-old little boy struggling with leukemia in August,” Stigall said.
He is planning to speak with this year's Final Four participants, as well as athletes from colleges and universities all over the country who are in town for the festivities.
His hope is that they will take Andrew’s message back to their schools and live Andrew’s mantra of being a leader off the court.
If you would like more information on donating bone marrow or joining Andrew’s Project 44, visit here.