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Chris Kelly: An Inspiration In Pajamas

December 19, 2018

Matthew McDonnell will not wear his “Minions” pajamas to class today at South Abington Elementary School. The 8-year-old has strep throat, with a nondescript virus piling on.

Matthew does not have cancer. A recent checkup shows he is free of Wilms tumor, a rare kidney cancer that plagued him most of his young life. The fever and aches Matthew battled Tuesday are routine for a boy his age.

“This is normal,” Matthew told me in a phone interview. “I’ve had it like, four times.”

Matthew had four major surgeries to cure his cancer. Those trials inspired the name of his charity — Matthew’s Hope 4 Miracles.

Matthew inspired Matt McGloin to join his team. Over the past six years, the former West Scranton and Penn State quarterback made the rosters of the Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs.

The Washington Redskins are on their third starting quarterback this season. Why they haven’t called in McGloin is a mystery to me.

“It is what it is,” McGloin said Tuesday. “I’m open to another NFL job, but if it doesn’t happen, we’ll go in a different direction.”

McGloin, 29, made enough money during his four years with the Raiders to live comfortably in Waverly Twp. He and Bailey, his wife of nearly two years, are expecting a baby boy in February. McGloin’s focus is preparing for fatherhood and helping Matthew help others.

“How can you not be excited when you’re around him?” McGloin said of the boy who has captured the imaginations of so many over the past few years.

“He has so much energy, so much excitement for what he’s doing. He beat cancer. All I did was play football. You can’t compare the two.”

No, you can’t. Matthew faced down death with a smiling face and a faithful heart. McGloin worked hard and rose to the highest level of American sports. Both were underdogs who beat the odds.

Individually, they’re inspiring. Together, they’re unstoppable.

Matthew asked his mom, Linda, to petition his school principal to allow him to wear his Minions pajamas on Thursday. If the principal agrees and Matthew is cleared by his doctor, Matt McGloin and I will escort our hero to school wearing our best pajamas.

If it doesn’t happen, we’ll go in a different direction, with Matthew leading the way.

CHRIS KELLY, the Times-Tribune columnist, is a better person for knowing Matthew McDonnell. Contact the writer: kellysworld@timesshamrock.com, @cjkink on Twitter. Read his award-winning blog at timestribuneblogs.com/kelly.

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