Prep Talk

Marrow for Matt Campaign is the Highlight of Hermit Fest

Posted September 11th, 2012


When St. Augustine Prep senior Matt Piratzky was diagnosed with leukemia this summer, his friends decided that they needed to do something to help.

Every rising senior at St. Augustine Prep is required to conduct a summer service project through a program called Caritas. This term, the Latin for love, is one of the core values of the institution. In Augustinian theology, the term represents loving service for others. Many Prep students’ Caritas projects involve fundraising for a philanthropy or cause. But when seniors Mike Elfreth, Craig Smith, and Carl File learned about Matt’s diagnoses, their service project became about helping a friend. The students began a “Marrow for Matt” campaign that raised funds for the Piratzky family and culminated with a bone marrow testing event that coincided with the annual Hermit Fest event. The bone marrow testing (which is a non-invasive swab test) is designed to identify potential donors.

Hermit Fest, a celebration of the new school year and the culmination of freshman week at the Prep, became a rally for the campaign. An unprecedented percentage of students participated in the program, showing their support by donning “Marrow for Matt” t-shirts during school and in the bleachers of the home soccer and football games later that evening.  “Marrow for Matt” became one of the top “trending” topics on Twitter last week, and even Phillies’ shortstop Jimmy Rollins retweeted the topic in response to a request from a student.

The campaign has raised over $8,000, and the impact of adding the names of the individuals to the potential bone marrow donor registry will have an immeasurable impact on those affected by leukemia.

In addition to Caritas, another core value at St. Augustine Prep is Unitas, or unity. The story of the Marrow for Matt campaign began by his classmates is an example of this core value in action, but the participation of the student body, the response to a call to action by the people closest to Matt, is perhaps the best example that there is of both of these core values: Unity and Love.