BELLEVUE, Wash. — Though there's a 13-year difference between Matt Hooper and his oldest brother Chris, the two siblings shared a strong bond.
"It's hard to describe him. Warm, sweet, witty. He had the best jokes and whether it was at your expense or his, he was going to get that last joke in," Matt said.
But 13 years ago, Chris received news that was no laughing matter.
"He told me in 2009, a short time after he found out himself, he was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, which is a blood cancer, blood disease," Matt said. "I got the opportunity to test myself right away and I was a perfect match for him. I donated my stem cells. I was able to donate to him a few months after he told me about his diagnosis."
Matt's lifesaving gift and medical treatment added more than a decade to Chris’s life. But just weeks before he was to start a new treatment, his brother lost the fight.
"Being that close is hard to accept and 13 years is not enough time. With that said though, the more research that can be done you know, the more time we can all get with our loved ones."
To honor Chris and help future cancer breakthroughs, Matt is riding in Fred Hutch's annual fundraiser, Obilterride.
"He would be extremely supportive of this and want to be right there. If he couldn't ride he'd be wanting to be cheering us on for sure."
But Matt won't be riding just any bike. He'll be riding his brother Chris’s.
"It's a Peugeot, a classic steel frame. And it's a tank. And he rode that bike on the Seattle to Portland race back in the 80s in one day," Matt recalled. "One thing about Chris is he lived in the moment, he never told me, you know, 'Why did I get this disease? How come it happened to me?' That inspired me. And so, I said no, no more excuses. This is a perfect opportunity to ride for Fred Hutch, to ride for Chris."
So while biking may be a solo sport, at Obliteride, Matt will be riding for two.
"I'm going to ride it with four feet on the pedals. His and mine."
The 10th annual Fred Hutch Obliteride is Saturday, August 13
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