by Lauren Davidson
When you first meet Kyle Santorine ’17, it’s a safe guess that he’s a football player. The offensive lineman started every game his first year and was only slightly hindered by an injury his sophomore year. Spend a few minutes with him and you’ll discover that he’s a gentle giant—easygoing, quick with a smile and a joke. But a glimpse up his sleeve—literally—reveals a painful loss that has driven him to action.
When exploring colleges, playing football plus a strong academic program were must-haves, but it was when Santorine learned that Dickinson’s football team spearheaded an annual Be the Match (BTM) bone marrow registry drive on campus that he was sold.
“In 1999, my little sister was diagnosed with juvenile chronic myeloid leukemia,” Santorine recalls. “She needed a bone-marrow transplant, and my father organized a bone-marrow-registry drive for her. My mother ended up being the best match, but in 2000, Elizabeth passed away.”
A tattoo of angel wings on Santorine’s right arm is a tribute to Elizabeth, and with the same determination he shows on the field and in the classroom, he is driving forward to make a difference.
In Santorine’s first year, Dickinson’s BTM drive raised more than $6,000 and added 350 new members to the registry. This year, Dickinson nearly doubled its fundraising numbers and brought the total number of registered donors to 850, earning the top spot among 50 colleges participating in the BTM’s Get in the Game initiative.
The policy-management major and some teammates also worked to get a Be the Match on Campus club recognized by Student Senate, which will help the group host more registry drives and spread awareness around campus, in local schools and throughout the Carlisle community.
“Head Coach Darwin Breaux, he wants you to succeed—in the classroom, on the field, in life,” Santorine says. “He tries to instill good values. BTM was one of his ideas to get us involved in the community.
“My biggest moment so far was my first collegiate game,” he continues. “Being out there, soaking it in, playing against Hobart [and William Smith Colleges]—a nationally ranked team at the time—was eye opening, humbling and gratifying.”
It’s also gratifying that several Dickinsonians have been matched with candidates thanks to the BTM registry initiative on campus. Reed Salmons ’14 had a life-changing experience after being a peripheral blood stem-cell donor for a recipient in Washington, and their meeting one year later has made national headlines. Claire Paulson ’17 also was matched and has donated—she is anticipating connecting with her recipient.
And while he’s been on the bone-marrow registry for years but hasn’t been a match yet, Santorine is waiting for that call, with hope that he can help.
Read more from the summer 2015 issue of Dickinson Magazine.
Published July 28, 2015