Steven Dobarzynski was a quiet, shy young man. He didn't drink, smoke or do drugs.
He was smart, funny and loved his Kappa Kappa Psi fraternity brothers and all the members of the Sound of the South Marching
Band at Troy State University. He loved life and didn't want to give it up.
"Steven wanted to live so badly," said his mother, Ann Hart Dobarzynski "He had
so much to live for. He loved life and he loved helping others. He was so incredibly brave through his illness. I only saw
him cry one time."
Steven lived only eight months after he was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia
in August of 2001. However, his life so impacted the brothers of Kappa Kappa Psi, the honorary band fraternity at Troy State
that his memory continues to live on through them.
Steven died on March 25, 2002, due to complications following a bone marrow transplant.
He was 20 years old.
"Steven was a quiet kind of guy but when he spoke it was something worth listening
to," said Cory Sisco, who coordinated the fraternal ceremony at Steven's funeral. "I can honestly say that I never heard Steven
insult anyone or put anyone down. That's just the kind of person he was. We wanted to do something to honor him - to honor
the brother that was taken from us."
Kappa Kappa Psi has a step team and it was decided that a step show would attract
a lot of interest and raise funds for the Marrow Foundation.
Chris Wildnan, chair of the event, said the funds that are raised will be split
this year. With half of the money going to the Marrow Foundation and the other used to help decrease the bills incurred as
a result of Steven's illness.'
"Our future plans are to establish the Steven Dobarzynski Memorial Fund which
will be a memorial scholarship."
The importance of the battle against leukemia is magnified by the numbers.
Dobarzynski said leukemia is the leading cause of disease related death among
those under 20 years of age.
"Every nine minutes someone dies from leukemia and every five minutes someone
is diagnosed," she said. "The research into the disease is so important and so is the work of the Marrow Foundation, which
works in conjunction with the National Marrow Donor Program. Their goal is to bring patients and donors together. They manage
the world's largest registry of volunteer stem cell donors and cord blood units."
The non-profit organizations work to increase access to transplantation through
research, advocacy and public and professional education.
What Steven needed from the organization was a donor.
"During the summer of 2001, Steven began having headaches, leg pains, dizziness
and looked pale," Dobarzynski said. "I took him to our family doctor and blood work revealed that he had leukemia."
Further tests revealed that Steven had the type of leukemia that does not go into
remission except through a bone marrow transplant.
"Steven didn't have any siblings who might have provided a match, so the search
was on for a donor," Dobarzynski said. "Finally a match was found and Steven's transplant was scheduled for Dec. 20, 2001
Steven and his family were told that he had a 40 percent chance of surviving the
transplant but without it he had less than a year to live.
"That was not much of a choice," Dobarzynski said. "It was a last resort effort."
During his last eight months of life, Steven spent more than two of them on a
ventilator and more than four in the hospital. When not in the hospital, he had to wear a surgical mask any time he left home.
When he lost his battle with leukemia, Steven's friends were deeply saddened and
wanted to make sure that he is not forgotten at the university he so loved.
"Losing a child is the worst thing that can happen to anyone," Dobarzynski said.
"I lost my mother and that is a terrible loss, but there is nothing as devastating and as heartbreaking as losing a child.
I am grateful to Kappa Kappa Psi for helping to keep Steven's memory alive and for their support of the Marrow Foundation
which provides hope to many. I'm just proud that these young people took something so tragic and turned it into something