Three days after he returned from his honeymoon, Matthew Schreindorfer began noticing symptoms. Fevers and night sweats made him and his wife, Katia, believe that he had caught a bug in the Caribbean, but the diagnosis was far different.
“I thought it was mono until the day they told me it was cancer,” Matthew explained. “It was a shock.”
Matthew was an avid ice hockey player his entire life and was in such great health. He visited his doctor rarely and wasn’t even aware of his blood type until he was first diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 2014.
He underwent all possible treatments available in Canada, and despite their positivity through it all, each treatment failed one by one. To save Matthew’s life, the couple turned to crowdfunding, a term not commonly used by Canadians because the country offers free, publicly funded healthcare. Hence, there is no need to fundraise for medical debt.
“We had looked at GoFundMe, but [YouCaring] was free.” Katia explained. “I really liked the option that the donor can give or not.” Donors have the option of providing a voluntary contribution to support YouCaring’s operations and help keep fundraising free for organizers.
They raised over $835,000 for a clinical trial at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City with the support of donors from across the globe. Matthew was able to receive the treatment needed to save his life, but unfortunately his crowdfunding journey didn’t end there.
Matthew’s cancer recently returned and he needs to raise another $700,000 to participate in a clinical trial in Seattle, Washington with a 85 to 95 percent remission success rate. Without hesitation, Matthew and Katia created a second fundraiser on YouCaring because of the outpour of support they saw from their first campaign.
Although the support from donors was outstanding, raising $1 million didn’t happen overnight. Matthew and his community are going the extra mile to ensure that they reach their goal and save his life for the second time.
“I think people sometimes think that they’re just going to start a fundraiser and it’s going to work,” Matthew explained. “We’re working on ours all of the time.”
Matthew and his community launched a blog and opened social media profiles on multiple platforms, named Help Save Matthew, to document his journey. He also started the Knockout Leukemia Challenge to raise awareness for his cause.
The challenge inspires participants to film themselves running up a flight of stairs to the Rocky Balboa theme song. After posting their video on social media, they must challenge three friends to do the same and donate to Matthew’s cause.
The Knockout Leukemia Challenge has benefited the fundraiser, but the real contributor to their success in raising over $1 million is their community. Matthew and Katia said their community, including their ten thousand Facebook followers, genuinely want to help. Some friends have even stepped up to lead their blog efforts and create videos to promote the cause, so the couple doesn’t have to fundraise alone.
“It’s not just YouCaring doing this for us,” Matthew said. “We had to put all of the pieces together to make it work.”
Matthew’s story is a lesson in the power of community. When people turn to crowdfunding for help in a time of need, the support they receive from their fundraising team and donors can be as healing as the money raised.
“[It was] beautiful to see because you always see negative things in the media,” Katia explained. “It was nice to see and feel the love.”
To learn more about Matthew’s campaign and support him on his journey to recovery, please visit his fundraiser.