Friday, March 29, 2013

A Crusade for a friend


from MuskegoPatch.Com -


Muskego Teen Plays All-Star Game for Safe Haven at Children's Hospital

Muskego's Matt Degner calls his high school football career "picture perfect," and hopes to have it make a difference for other teens at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, one of whom has been a good friend
 
by Denise Konkel
 
As a senior at Catholic Memorial High School, Matt Degner of Muskego realizes his last four years have been idyllic.

"Winning a state championship, making honorable mention all-state, earning multiple scholarships, and on pace to graduate. What more could I ask for?" he said of his time in high school and playing football. "Playing in this game is hands down the perfect way to wrap up what has already been a picture perfect high school career."

"This game" is the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) All-Star Game, which will take place in Oshkosh, chosen from over 600 high school football players are nominated to play in the game. Degner will play on the South team against the North in the Large School game.

Childrens Hospital of Wisconsin is sponsoring the entire game, and in being selected to play, players were asked to fundraise on behalf of Childrens Hospital. The amount raised this year will go towards a "teen room" at the hospital, which is seen as a doctor-free, medication-free zone to give teen patients a little respite from their issues.

The room will consist of multiple televisions, multiple gaming systems such as Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. The room will also consist of multiple tables for patients who enjoy arts and crafts, writing, and a lot more. Comfortable furniture will be purchased, such as beanbag chairs and couches.

"The thing I find most remarkable about this room is the fact that no medical testing can be performed," Degner said. "The room will be strictly for relaxation. The room is almost a 'safe haven' for the patients. They do not have to worry about getting shots or any other kinds of medical procedures. It gives patients an opportunity to be a teenager rather than being just a patient."

Giving back for a friend

Degner's interest in Children's Hospital is at a personal level as well. A friend he's known since kindergarten, Muskego resident Andy Stasik, "pretty much lived at the hospital as a child," according to Andy's mom, Linda. Andy has had numerous orthopedic issues, requiring countless surgeries over the years.

"He was a children's champion, and has helped to raise more than $50,000 through his efforts at Al's Run and other fundraisers over the years," she explained.

Stasik received the Molly Burke Courage Award in February at CMH for his efforts, as well as his ability to succeed in the face of adversity.

“Andy has experienced the surgeries, pain medication, therapy, and disabilities resulting from SCID (Severe Combined Immune Deficiency),” wrote Steve Plechaty, Dean of Students and Andy’s golf coach at CMH. “Rather than allowing this to discourage him, it compels Andy to make a difference in the lives of others.”

While Degner sent several pictures to Muskego Patch, he requested the one of him and Andy be chosen to publish because "it has the most meaning."

How you can help

As the only Muskego resident selected to play this year, Degner is reaching out to the his community for donations.

"No donation is too small. If anybody is willing to donate, my email is degnerm78@yahoo.com. I look forward to working with anyone who is willing to donate," he said.

Although Degner was humbled at the honor of playing, the chance to be a part of helping other teens made it more special.

"I have seen this game played on television for many years and never envisioned myself being part of something so special," he said. "This is truly something special and something I will never forget. My senior year has truly been something special."

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