UW-Oshkosh football player meets recipient of his life-saving transplant

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OSHKOSH,Wis. (WBAY) – UW-Oshkosh welcomed a family from northern Indiana Friday.

10-year-old Phoenix Bridegroom finally met the hero that saved her life.

“Brett is a really awesome dude,” said Phoenix.

UW-Oshkosh Quarterback Brett Kasper soaked it in.

“It’s amazing,” Kasper said. “How could you not smile at that smile.”

Two years ago the smiling girl needed a transplant because she had leukemia. Now she’s doing great. Kasper is thankful he signed up on a registry to donate his bone marrow.

“The thought of pain shouldn’t keep someone off the registry, the pain I went through is helping someone that is going through a lot more pain,” said Kasper.

Kasper was on Be The Match marrow registry, along with 80 percent of the UW-Oshkosh football team. The registry approached UW-Oshkosh’s football coach a couple years ago to find donors.

“Again what a place to start as with a football team and with a coach that’s determined to get those men on the registry to helps save lives,” said Be The Match’s Kelli Vander Wielen.

#5 ranked UW-Oshkosh plays well on the field but off the field the team also make the coach proud.

“You know we’re a top ranked team and we try to be a top ranked team off the field as well,” said UW-Oshkosh coach Pat Cerroni.

Because of that effort, two parents have their happy, healthy daughter.

“Things are great and she’s getting the opportunity to be a normal little girl, she was diagnosed when she was 5, that’s all she’s known her whole life, so she’s getting the opportunity to be a lucky girl,” said Phoenix’s Dad John.

A happy day for the Oshkosh community and a day long awaited for Phoenix.

“My very important thing is meeting Brett for the first time,” said Phoenix.