Former Eagles football All-American Luke Kuechly helped to encourage volunteers for the national marrow registry at BC on October 21. The Charlotte, NC-based nonprofit partnered with the Boston College Student-Athlete Advisory Committee on a campaign to educate the University community about the critical need for donors. (Photo by Liam Weir)
On an unseasonably warm late October afternoon, former Eagles football All-American Luke Kuechly—the most decorated defensive player in BC's history—was on campus to promote a different kind of team spirit.
Kuechly, now a three-time All-Pro linebacker with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, was on hand Oct. 21—the day before his BC jersey would be retired in a ceremony at Alumni Stadium—as a representative of the Project Life Movement to help encourage and register volunteers for the national marrow registry. The Charlotte, NC-based nonprofit partnered with the Boston College Student-Athlete Advisory Committee on a three-day campaign to educate the University community about the critical need for marrow and stem cell donors.
The campaign, which also included participation by current student-athletes, brought in 861 new registrants.
Standing in a place very familiar to him – the Gasson Quad – Kuechly posed for photos with passersby, and urged them to sign up and perform a cheek swab to become part of the registry.
Kuechly sounded a constant refrain – “Did you register yet?” – as he accepted greetings from students. Depending on their answers, he responded “Good!” or “Well, don’t forget. Only takes a minute.”
“It’s something so easy, so simple to do, and it can save people’s lives,” said Kuechly, who’s been working with Project Life Movement for the past three years, during a fleetingly free moment. “When you meet people who have survived because they were helped by receiving bone marrow, you can really appreciate what a difference doing something like this makes.”
Kuechly said he was “tremendously honored” to have his jersey retired. “It means a lot because of the impact BC had on me. I met so many good people while I was an undergraduate [from 2009-2012]. BC really cares about the students who come here, and that makes an impact on you.”
The Associated Press 2012 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and 2013 AP Defensive Player of the Year, Kuechly is relishing his pro football career.
“I love my team,” said Kuechly, who splits his time between Charlotte and his native Cincinnati during the year. “We’ve got a bunch of great guys who make playing football fun. And the best way to be a football player is if it’s fun.”
With another line of students having formed, Kuechly went back to the task at hand. “How you doing?” he said to a trio as they arranged themselves next to him for a photo. “Did you register yet?”
—Sean Smith | News & Public Affairs