Mushaw Gives Gift Of Life


Ryan Jones, Sports Editor

Football teams are often looked at as a family, but Central Connecticut’s linebacker Michael Mushaw has found another family, off the field.

“He’s like Uncle Mike to us. He’s always going to be a part of this family,” Elan stated. Elan is the father of one-year-old Eleanor, who’s life was saved thanks to a bone marrow donation by Mushaw. On Friday, Mushaw met with Eleanor in person for the first time, when she did the inaugural coin flip before Mushaw’s game against Saint Francis PA.

The game was more than just another win for the Blue Devils, who have steamrolled their way through the schedule so far. This game had a story book like ending, one where the hero prevails at the last second. To save the game, Mushaw delivered a game-winning sack that secured CCSU’s 38-31 victory.

“Feels great to end the game like this,” Mushaw said. “This game was for her, everything is for her. She’s an inspiration to me. She fought back for more than I could have ever imagined to go through at that young of an age. She’s amazing.”

Despite this being their first face-to-face encounter, Mushaw face times Eleanor and her family every weekend after games to catch up.

“They’ve been watching every game,” Mushaw said. “They’re the biggest Blue Devil supporters.”

Jess and Elan were hand in hand with Eleanor as she walked onto the field Saturday. When they first heard the news of Mushaw being a potential match, it was a much needed break from what was a long run of bad news for them.

“There were high fives involved when we first heard,” Elan said. “It was the first good news after a lot of bad news. We had a lot of anxiety waiting to hear if she had a potential match.”

In July of 2018, the junior donated his bone marrow through the “Be The Match” foundation. After sending in a cheek swab, Mushaw discovered he could be a potential match for little Eleanor.

While many have called Mushaw’s actions heroic, he is the first one to denounce the praise.

“It’s just that I can help pass the message along,” Mushaw said. “It was never about me getting recognition. Whenever anyone tried to say I was a hero, I steered away. I’m not a hero, it’s just things we need to do.”

Eleanor’s parents, Jess and Elan, recanted a similar story of Mushaw’s humbleness.

“Everytime we say thank you to him his response is always that Eleanor changed his life and was his superhero,” Jess stated.

With Eleanor’s surgery a success and health no longer in question, the family has a lot of plans going forward for Eleanor.

“We’re going to live life to the fullest and continue experience things,” Elan said. “She’ll finally be cleared to go on planes moving forward, so lots of travel.”

For Jess, her focus is to “just enjoy her being a little brat,” as she would describe it, with Eleanor exemplifying this by tugging at her mother’s hair. “When she pulls on your hair like she is now, ‘you are a gift, child.'”

“Appreciate every moment and remember that we were granted a gift in having her make it through this process,” Jess continued.

CCSU’s Athletic Director Brian Barrio said Mushaw’s act of charity is a “direct example of the culture we want to have here. We talk all the time about the character and values piece that we teach here in athletics being more important than the athletics, this is on a whole different level. It’s so heartening to see one of our student athletes completely turn the stereotype of college athletes and students today on its head through an act of pure selfless love. To do what he did for a stranger is just moving beyond words.”

For Mushaw, donating his bone marrow and saving young Eleanor’s life was as simple as “doing the right thing.”

“With everything that’s going on in this world,” Mushaw said, “the more we can do to help each other out and save another person’s life, or just help them in any little way, why not do it?”