Gridiron Courage - Patrick's Riley Story

August 29, 2013
Topics: About Us

A stellar start to the year

2013 was proving to be an exceptional year for our son, Patrick. He was winding down his senior year at Central Catholic High School in Lafayette. As his football team's offensive captain, he had earned four IHSAA 1A state championship rings and two Gridiron Digest "Griddy" awards. (The "Griddy" awards are to Indiana high school football what the ESPYS are to the NCAA.)

Patrick's success on football field is made for the history books, but his most memorable success is accomplished off the field.

Reaching out to a football brother

During the run to the state finals, the Central Catholic Knights traveled to the small northern community of Winamac, Indiana for the regional championship. We learned that a young Winamac boy by the name of Cooper Fulmer had been diagnosed with leukemia. This news greatly affected Patrick, because our family had lost his younger sister, Claire, to APML type leukemia in June of 2011, just before her 15th birthday.

Patrick and his fellow captains held a fundraiser for the Fulmer family, and Patrick asked to meet Cooper's older brother Gavin (a Winamac team captain) after the game. They met on the 50 yard line so that Patrick could share his story, and to let Gavin know that he and his Knights were praying for Cooper. Afterwards, both teams met at midfield for a joint prayer for Cooper. Those efforts earned Patrick the "Spirit of Sports" Griddy Award on March 17, 2013.

A new test of courage

On March 25, 2013, just eight days after receiving his Griddy Awards, Patrick received a diagnosis of ALL "B" cell leukemia. He had tried to donate blood at school, but was declined due to low hemoglobin, and because of our experience with Claire we knew something was wrong. A blood test and a call from our family doctor confirmed our suspicion. We immediately turned to Riley, remembering full well how hard the medical team there fought for Claire. We are currently working towards getting his MRD (minimal residual disease) down to zero with the intention of receiving a bone marrow transplant.

Patrick has now put his college plans on hold while he fights his disease. On Friday nights, as treatment allows, you will find Patrick on the sidelines working with his younger football brothers. He is serving a student graduate coach with his beloved Central Catholic Knights and learning the skills of coaching from his O-line coach of four years, Hall of Famer Frank O'Shea.

Hope Happens Here

Patrick is receiving the best treatment possible from the best medical team possible. Everyone Patrick comes into contact with at Riley Hospital is a compassionate and deeply caring professional. That's why we are getting behind Riley and sharing our story today during the K-105 Riley Radiothon. We encourage you to become a Miracle Maker. Your gift can make a difference in the life of a child like our son. Thank you for your support of Patrick and other Riley Hospital patients.

Hope happens here, and our family knows this to be true.

To make a donation in honor of Patrick or other Riley kids through the K-105 Riley Radiothon, click here.

Joe Mackey

Joe Mackey and his wife Tami are the parents of Riley leukemia patient and Central Catholic High School graduate Patrick Mackey, who is currently undergoing treatment for ALL. They are also the parents of the late Claire Mackey, who lost her battle with a rare form of leukemia in 2011, and Connor Mackey, who attends Indiana University. The family lives in Lafayette, where Joe works as a quality analyst for Caterpillar and Tami works as a registered nurse for IU Health Arnett Hospital.

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