Simple cheek swab turns out to be a life-saver

by Deb Silverthorn, Texas Jewish Post

With the saving of one life, we are taught we can save the world. Through medical advancements and bone-marrow transplantation, Dallas’ community has often made saving the world possible.

For 23-year-old Cody Strull, the notion of saving a life was something “others did.” Now, he’s one of the “others” by virtue of his match with a cancer patient to whom he donated stem cells.

Strull, the son of Keo and Brian and brother of Brandon and Sean, is a former Rubin Kaplan BBYO member and Richardson High School graduate. He was raised at Temple Shalom and is now involved with Intown Chabad.

In February 2016, as president of the Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT) fraternity at the University of Texas, Strull expected no more than a good time during Dad’s Weekend. Basketball, revelry and casino games were augmented by a bone marrow donor drive by DKMS, an organization dedicated to fighting blood cancer and blood disorders.

“We planned a casino night and wanted a philanthropy to share the proceeds with,” said Marc Andres, a UCLA ZBT alum and father of UT alumni Louis, who graduated in 2016, and Miles, who graduated in 2018. The brothers helped coordinate Dad’s Weekend. Miles, then the fraternity’s philanthropy chair, chose the efforts of the Guillot family, whose son Zach died in 2014.

Zach fought hard to live, and through his battle, parents Julie and Jeff Guillot (a UT ZBT ’82 alum) and siblings Jake and Lili dedicated themselves to creating awareness and raising funds to find a cure.

“Jeff was in the pledge class with many of the dads of the participating kids, and being a brotherhood and a family, it was an easy decision,” Andres said. “The first year, we raised $1,500; the second, almost $5,000; last year, nearly $17,500; and, as it turns out, we helped make a match, and that’s worth so much more. Fraternity boys can get a bad rap but this is one for the books — great kids, great hearts.”