Friday evening, a family from Alaska met, for the first time, with the Utah woman who saved their daughter's life — a story that started nearly four years ago.
It's Shawen Bueckers' senior year as a nursing student at Brigham Young University, and though she's accomplished a lot while there, it's a simple decision she made as a freshman that has made all the difference.
"I could sign up for something like this, like, who knows if they’ll ever call me?" Shawen said, reflecting on when she signed up with Be the Match to be a bone marrow donor.
That call came in 2021.
“They’re asking me to do something that I know that I can do," she said.
Though nervous about recovering from the transplant while navigating her senior year of college, Shawen decided to go through with the surgery — a decision that saved a 1-year-old girl's life.
Rebecca and Ryan Bellmore were told in 2020 that their 1-year-old Amelia had Leukemia.
"It’s one of those things you never think will happen to you, and it did," said Rebecca.
The Bellmores lived in Alaska and traveled around the West Coast visiting doctors for treatments.
"After a bunch of different diagnoses with different doctors, it ended up being a leukemia tumor on her face," said Ryan.
Their daughter Amelia went through several rounds of chemotherapy before doctors decided she needed a bone marrow transplant — Ryan and Rebecca were told they had weeks to find one before things turned for the worst.
"Getting her a bone marrow transplant was her only option that was going to save her life,” said Ryan.
Originally, Amelia's older sister Lillian was a perfect match to be a donor. Then Amelia's cancer grew more severe and doctors advised Ryan and Rebecca to find a donor outside of their own family for added strength to the transplant's success.
That's when Be the Match connected Shawen and the Bellmores.
The day after Amelia's second birthday in 2021, she received Shawen's bone marrow.
"We got a letter from her donor and I started crying when I saw the letter," said Ryan. "I could hardly open it and I’ve been wishing since that point that we could have a relationship with her donor."
On Friday, Be the Match once again connected the two families — this time, in person.
After exchanging hugs, Ryan decided to pay Shawen's decision forward and registered to become a donor too.
"There’s a lot of people who are not as lucky as us and cannot find matches, so please if you have time, sign up for the registry," said Ryan.
Amelia's cancer is now in remission and the Bellmores said her recovery is going well.
Be the Match flew the Bellmores out for this special meeting as a way to finish off their week registering students at BYU.
As of Friday, around 2,200 students had registered.
They created a special registration in Amelia’s name here or you can text “CelebrateAmelia” to 61474.