Virginia’s Mike London, Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher unite to fight rare illness

Coaches trying to raise awareness after being affected by bone-marrow disease

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Nearly a decade ago, Virginia coach Mike London learned that his daughter Ticynn was diagnosed with Fanconi anemia, a rare disease that affects bone marrow.

Since then, the coach has devoted his charitable energies to helping raise awareness, and signing people up for the national bone marrow registry. Now he has an ally in that crusade: Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, whose son was recently diagnosed as having the disease.

The two have teamed to dedicate this Saturday’s game between the schools to the cause, including a public service announcement that features both coaches.

The two are “using the opportunity and the platform that both of us have been provided not only to talk about our own children, but other people’s children and loved ones,” London said. “It makes the cause well worth it.”

Now in his second season at U.Va., London’s efforts already have resulted in two success stories.

The first was last year, when walk-on Trevor Grywatch made a bone marrow donation to a leukemia patient.

Then this summer London received an email from Joel Loeshelle, an engineering student from New Jersey. Loeshelle had participated in a registry drive sponsored by the football team.

“I had read about coach London’s story, and how he donated to his daughter,” Loeshelle said. “I thought it was a cool opportunity, and meeting coach was a nice perk.”

He was tagged as a potential match for a patient in need over the summer. London gave him his phone number and provided advice on how to handle the process, adding that Loeshelle could call anytime he had questions.

Loeshelle said that helped put him at ease before the operation.

“My family was more worried than I was,” he said. “But they were proud of me and supportive throughout the process.”

After making a successful donation on July 12 in New York, Loeshelle was back at work three days later, though he had lingering soreness for another week after that.

London and the Cavaliers team rewarded him for his charitable deed by giving him a sideline pass to join the Wahoos for this season’s home opener against William and Mary.

The coach now wants to expand on his charitable efforts, which include the annual registry drive on campus, by creating a foundation.

Fisher has done likewise at Florida State with the Kidz First Fund. The two coaches will meet with their families before Saturday’s game, a continuation of a bond being forged between wives Regina London and Candi Fisher, as well as their husbands.

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