The Furlong family sponsors matching gift opportunity with $200,000 donation
Riley Furlong has always been a cheerful, spirited girl. Nicknamed “Smiley Riley,” she’s a helpful, outgoing kid who goes out of her way to look out for others.
When she was just eight years old, Riley began feeling sick—as if she might have the flu. But when her blood test came back with alarming numbers, Riley was taken to the emergency room immediately. And after further testing, she was diagnosed with leukemia.
“Hearing that your child has cancer is the worst moment a parent can face,” said Bill Furlong, Riley’s dad. “Fear, sadness, guilt—how could we not have noticed? Uncertainty—what does this mean? What is the prognosis?”
After a year of chemotherapy treatment, Riley’s leukemia had returned, so her oncologist recommended a bone marrow transplant. Fortunately, Riley had a suitable donor match on the Be The Match Registry®.
“We came to understand the ‘needle in a haystack’ nature of the match process when we learned that Riley’s donor was an international donor,” Bill shared. “That’s when it really sunk in how incredibly lucky we were to find someone who was a very good match and was ready to donate his bone marrow.”
Even though she had found her donor match, conscientious and caring Riley wanted to do something to help patients who were still searching for their donor match. So, with her dad as cameraman, Riley starred in her own YouTube video (SpitForRiley) to encourage viewers to swab their cheeks and join the Be The Match Registry.
A new beginning
In May 2018, Riley received her bone marrow transplant. While she didn’t develop any complications, the road to recovery was long. She finally returned to her school after spring break in March 2019.
Now 14 years old, Riley is doing great. She enjoys food and cooking (she was so excited to eat sushi again!). She plays sports and piano, does well in school and is in good overall health.
“Fighting cancer was the main thing that defined her life—and ours, too—for three years. But now what defines her life is time with friends, studying for tests, cooking a great meal, celebrating birthdays or playing in a basketball game,” said Bill.
Giving with gratitude
Ever since experiencing the impact of our life-saving mission firsthand, the Furlong family has been dedicated Be The Match supporters. We are beyond grateful for their ongoing support and for their recent sponsorship of a matching gift opportunity with a very generous $200,000 donation.
“Every day Riley has—and every day we have with Riley—is a gift,” said Bill. “It’s hard to look at yourself as ‘lucky’ when your kid gets cancer, but we now know how fortunate we were. We found Riley’s match.”
Bill said it best. “Every dollar contributed to Be The Match will help get us closer to a world where everyone who needs this treatment can get this treatment—which will save thousands and thousands of lives each year.”
To get your gift matched by the Furlong family in honor of Riley—and double your life-saving impact—please make a gift today.