Pediatric patient Colt, age 11, smiles at the camera.
Pediatric patient Colt, age 11, stands with his IV stand and gives a thumbs up to the camera.

Colt finds his strength.

Colt Matz has been a competitive swimmer in Portville, New York, near the Pennsylvania border since he was 5 years old. It’s his all-time favorite sport. But in early May 2021, Colt found out he had leukemia. That put swimming on hold. It all started when he felt unwell during swim practice.

“I felt like I was going to pass out during warm ups, and I had to tell my coach,” the now 11-year-old said. A visit to the hospital in nearby Olean, New York, that same weekend revealed a terrifying truth.

“That afternoon, I heard the phrase no parent and no person should ever have to hear: your son has leukemia,” said Colt’s dad, Mike. An hour after the diagnosis, Colt and his mom, Christina, were airlifted to Buffalo to begin his care at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

After months of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant —for which Colt’s younger brother, Jack, ended up being a perfect match — this brave pediatric leukemia patient was ready to go home.

Pediatric patient Colt, age 11, smiles as he stands behind his parents, who are seated. Colt's arms are around his parents' shoulders.

Finding his courage with leukemia.

“This experience has been challenging, especially because everything happened so fast and it was really scary,” Colt said. “I didn’t understand what was really going on, but my doctors, nurses, programs and my parents helped me feel more comfortable each day.”

During his months of treatment in Buffalo, Colt said he spent his time learning to play the ukulele, trying video games and doing lots of crafts. Best of all, he said he discovered he was stronger and braver than he ever knew he could be.

Pediatric patient Colt, age 11, pours paint onto a canvas in his hospital room. He wears a mask and hospital gown.
Pediatric patient Colt, age 11, lies in his hospital bed and holds the hand of his younger brother who stands beside the bed.olt's arms are around his parents' shoulders.

Choosing Roswell Park as a pediatric leukemia patient.

“My experience at Roswell Park has been the best,” Colt said. “It is like one big family that I am now a part of. Everyone I meet always is helpful, kind and smiling. I know when I walk into clinic I am going to get the best care. And if I am nervous someone is always there to help me.”

For Christina and Mike, the choice to bring their son to Roswell Park was simple.

“When you have a world-class treatment center in your backyard, there is no other answer,” Mike said. “The facilities, the people and the environment are so positive. We couldn’t ask to be in a better spot for Colt’s care.”

“Our experience at Roswell Park has been nothing short of incredible. I dare anyone to find a more highly qualified medical team anywhere. But at Roswell Park, they don’t just treat the disease, they treat the whole person.”

The Matz family, like many others, has benefitted from emotional support, child life specialists, music and arts programs and visits from their favorite therapy dogs at Roswell Park. Many of those roles and programs are fueled by the generosity of donors.

Pediatric patient Colt, age 11, is embraced by his parents, one on either side of him.

You can make a difference for pediatric patients.

“I am so thankful for Courage of Carly,” Colt said. “They have done so many amazing things for me, my family and so many other kids like me.”

“To the many donors to Roswell Park, we want to say thank you,” Mike and Christina said. “The work you enable Roswell Park to do literally saves and changes lives. Every dollar you are able to contribute means more trips to get ice cream, more times at the park and more LIFE. Without generous donors like you, how many children and adults would not be able to enjoy all that life has to offer, big and small. What greater opportunity is there to help people than that?”

© 2020 Courage of Carly Fund

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