On Wednesday, Jan. 29, Joe McDonough, father to Andrew McDonough and founder of the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation, came to campus to rally support for the year-long fundraising efforts of NovaDance and to tell his son’s inspiring story. On Jan. 29, 2007, Joe’s life went from near-perfect to every parent’s worst nightmare.
Originally complaining of stomach pains on his right side, Andrew’s parents thought their son had appendicitis. His mom, Chris, took him to the doctor, and Joe left work early anticipating supporting his son through his appendicitis removal surgery (at the same age Joe and his father both had theirs). Suddenly, 14-year-old Andrew went into cardiac arrest. Doctors told the McDonough family that Andrew was diagnosed with AML Leukemia, and that they didn’t expect him to live through the night. In a matter of hours, Joe and his family went from worrying about the minutiae of daily life to worrying if their son would live to see another day. Despite these odds, Andrew battled for 167 days. He was in the hospital every single day until July 14, 2007, passing away the day after his father’s birthday. He had experienced four strokes and almost 50 surgeries; however, despite all the hardships Andrew faced, the family remained positive.
During Andrew’s time in the hospital, his family found out their son’s blood type was B positive. They took this as an omen, as it symbolized the attitude the family maintained throughout the entire process. It is this message of positivity that the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation is founded on and continues to embody and promote. When Andrew’s 167-day journey began, Joe left his job at JP Morgan Chase and never went back. He now dedicates his life to ensuring that the families of cancer patients never have to worry about affording cancer care for the child, whether it’s treatment, medication, research, transportation or any other element of daily life.
The talk on Wednesday night was specifically geared toward students who had recently joined Greek Life organizations on Villanova’s campus. One new member, Molly Farrell of Villanova’s Delta Gamma Chapter, was one of many who were incredibly moved by the story of Andrew McDonough.
“NovaDance has always been something important to me,” Farrell said. “It’s an incredible cause and supports an incredible message of positivity. Coming to tonight’s talk, however, made me even more motivated to get more involved. Not only hearing Andrew’s story, but hearing Andrew’s story from his own dad adds such a personal element that just moved me. I feel more motivated now than ever to do everything I can to one day live in a world that’s cancer free.”
Joe McDonough signs checks every Friday that disperse the weekly total raised by Villanovans to send to the families supported by the B+ Foundation. Without the fundraising efforts of Villanova students, these families would not be able to access the resources they need to continue supporting their children, and themselves, through this extremely challenging time in their lives. For this reason, it is pivotal that students across Villanova’s campus continue to be inspired by Andrew’s story and to spread his message of positivity. To support NovaDance is not just raising money for a cause, but it is ensuring that no more parents have to live their worst nightmare.