Cameron Lyle isn’t your typical college athlete. The University of New Hampshire graduate was all set to finish out his career on the track team in the spring of 2013 when he found out he was a bone marrow match for a 28-year-old man suffering from lymphoblastic leukemia.
Lyle, who participated in the shot put and hammer throw on the team, had the opportunity to help someone who otherwise would have had only a few months to live, and the decision was an easy one for the Plaistow, N.H., native to make.
“It was kind of a no-brainer for a decent human,” he told ABC News. “I couldn’t imagine just waiting. He could have been waiting for years for a match. I’d hope that someone would donate to me if I needed it.”
Now, the NCAA is honoring Lyle with the 2014 Award of Valor for his actions. The award “recognizes a courageous act or noteworthy bravery by an individual associated with intercollegiate athletics,” but Lyle said he is baffled by all the attention he has received.
“I don’t get it,” he said. “I view this whole thing as something anyone would do. It’s not as huge as people are making it out to be. I guess it’s just the type of person I am. After all the awards I’ve been getting, I keep asking, ‘wouldn’t anyone do the same thing?’”
Because of strict rules within the Be The Match organization, the only update Lyle has been able to receive about the man he helped is that the patient left the hospital five weeks ahead of schedule, and his scans showed no sign of leukemia.
Since his bone marrow donation, Lyle has become a vocal advocate for the National Marrow Donor Program’s Be The Match donor registry. He graduated from UNH in May and now works as a marketing director at the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion at Meadowbrook, a concert venue in Gilford, N.H.