OBU Senior Proves to "Be the Match"

OBU Senior Proves to "Be the Match"

Spencer Knight is your average student athlete preparing for his senior year of football. But this OBU fullback is also impacting lives off the field.
Ouachita Baptist University Tigers
Ouachita Baptist University Tigers
ARKADELPHIA, AR - Spencer Knight is your average college student athlete preparing for his senior year. He puts in time in the classroom and in the film room.

College football players are tested every Saturday, but it was a different test that led to a life changing moment. In 2011, Spencer and most of his teammates at OBU had their cheeks swabbed for a program called "Be the Match."

A former teammate, Justin Waite, had been diagnosed with leukemia and the team was hoping someone would be a positive match for a bone marrow transplant.

Spencer said, "He was a big guy, played defensive line. Just seeing how frail he was, it really broke my heart to see him that way."

A successful match wasn't found for Justin, who passed away later in 2011. But the story doesn't end there. Two years later in the middle of the football season, Spencer got a call.

Spencer said, "I had kind of forgotten at that point that I had signed up. At that point, it was a surprise to me, a shock."

Spencer was told he could be the match for a three-year-old child in Canada. Despite classes, practices, and games Spencer's mind was made up.

He said, "As soon as I got that call I knew it was something I wanted to do. Anything to help that boy was what I wanted to do."

Spencer's father and OBU Head Coach Todd Knight said, "We felt like it was a good decision. We felt like he was at peace about it. He had prayed about it and he felt like it was the right thing to do."

After numerous tests and physicals, the program deemed Spencer a match. This past January, Spencer went to a Houston hospital for a bone marrow harvest to help a boy from another country he had never met.

Spencer said, "They put you out for about two hours. They take a long hollow needle and they stick it into the back pelvis bone and they draw the bone marrow out of those two hips so there's two tiny scars in the back of my back."

Coach Knight said, "When they wheel your kid out of there and they're fixing to do a surgical procedure on him, there's always a concern."

When Coach Knight and his wife went to see Spencer after surgery, they literally saw another sign that eased their minds.

"I looked up at the number on the door, it's not just on the door, it's above the door, it's a huge number, and it's number 25. I just stopped right there and took a picture with my cell phone of the number because that is his football number. We just had another peace about that too. We laughed about that and thought this was the right thing for him."

The recovery process took about three weeks. These days Spencer feels as good as ever and can't wait for his senior year. But there is one call he's hoping to get. Not a fullback dive up the middle for a touchdown, but an update on the young Canadian.

Spencer says, "I think about him a lot. They tell you, you will get an emotional connection to the person you are donating to and I've seen that for sure. I want the best for him. I pray for him and think about his family constantly."

In 2013, Spencer and the OBU Tigers went 7-3. Spencer only touched the ball five times but as starting fullback he led the way for an offense that rushed for almost 200 yards a game.

"In football my position is fullback, so I'm a role player. That's how I think about life, taking on that role of being in the background, maybe doing the dirty work, just being there and laying my life down for something else."

Coach Knight says, "Now, looking back at the whole thing and knowing Justin's story, it gives me a lot of pleasure in my heart to know Justin, even though he's not here, he's still making a difference."

To find out if you could be the match for someone, click here.
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