90 Seconds of Depth: VMI Lacrosse goalkeeper Michael Hutwelker
Just a few months into his freshman year in 2013, VMI lacrosse goalkeeper Michael Hutwelker traveled with the team to a HEADstrong Lacrosse tournament in Philadelphia and provided a cheek swab just like everyone else was doing but didn’t think anything of it.
Fast forward to 2017 with only a month before graduating from the Institute, Hutwelker was going about his daily responsibilities some four weeks ago when his phone started buzzing with text messages and a missed phone call from a number he did not recognize.
Turns out it was the HEADstrong Foundation letting him know he was a potential match for a stem cell recipient found within its national registry. According to its website, the HEADstrong Foundation seeks to develop the complete student-athlete while supporting its mission of improving lives affected by cancer.
“I had totally forgotten that I even provided that sample more than three years ago,” Hutwelker said. “I was surprised but really excited that I might be able to make a huge difference for someone else.”
The Lahaska, Pennsylvania, native went about receiving permission from the VMI lacrosse coaching staff and Institute officials to move forward with the call to action. In recent weeks he’s had a few doctor appointments and the past few days has been required to take a daily injection to prepare for today’s stem cell harvesting.
For confidentiality and legal reasons the recipient cannot be publicly identified, but Hutwelker has been notified that the recipient is a 51-year-old male with leukemia.
“I will be given frequent updates on how he is doing with the treatments, but as far as personal contact we’re not allowed to reach out to one another for at least a year after the treatments are completed,” Hutwelker said.
Following Monday’s procedure, Michael anticipates about a week of recovery time, meaning he will miss today’s game at Monmouth, a week of practice and Saturday’s matchup with the Air Force Academy.
Overall, the process has not severely altered his daily assignments of attending class or performing his military duties.
“I missed one morning of classes to go to a doctor’s appointment, but all the testing so far has been during lunch or other times that don’t conflict with class or anything,” he said. “Right now I’m taking some injections that don’t interfere with schoolwork but I can’t play lacrosse because of it. It's not much of my time to volunteer. It's an honor to help someone out and possibly give him another chance.”
A mechanical engineering major set to graduate next month, Hutwelker has lined up employment as a project engineer with CVG Building Company based out of Arlington, Virginia.