PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Family members of Pittsburgh Steelers players are pitching in to help a standout Aliquippa High School football running back in need of a bone marrow transplant.
DiMantae Bronaugh previously led his team to the WPIAL Class AA title. Last year, he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
After being in remission, his leukemia returned this past August, denying him the chance to return to the field with his teammates.
DiMantae’s doctors at UPMC Children’s Hospital say his only hope to survive is a bone marrow transplant from someone who shares his ancestry.
Only 7 percent of bone marrow registry members are black, which is making it even more difficult to find a match.
But between noon 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, more than 200 people filed in and out of the J W Halls Steak and Seafood Inn on Brodhead Road to be tested as potential bone marrow donors.
The drive was hosted by the wives of the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was not only to find a match for DiMantae, but also to raise awareness to the need for minority donors.
Charlotte Heyward-Holifield, the mother of Steeler Cam Heyward, says she read about DiMantae’s story and was inspired to work with DKMS, a national bone marrow program to help.
“The donor registry for minorities is really a small number, 7 percent,” said Heyward-Holifield. “And if you are of mixed race, it’s even lower, 5 percent.”
People came out to have the inside of their cheeks swabbed so they could register as potential donors.
When DiMantae was first diagnosed, his community organized a huge blood drive for him. This time, he needs a bone marrow transplant and is back in Children’s Hospital. He’s been there for about three months.
“He is in good spirits, he is smiling, he has his good days and bad days, but he’s good. He believes in God for his healing,” said Anita Girdon, Bronaugh’s aunt.
Dimantae’s running back coach wants to help the 19-year-old, but also bring awareness to the need.
“It’s not just for DiMantae, it’s for any kid, a person in need,” said Timmie Patrick, Aliquippa’s running back coach. “We all should do our part because it could be you one day.”
Dimantae’s aunt says soon Children’s Hospital will give him a day pass so that he can visit family and friends at home.
The final count for the bone marrow drive was 222 people. They won’t know the results for about four weeks.
If you would like to help, you can register online to be a donor by clicking here.