Over the weekend and into this week, Rutgers is adding almost 18,000 new alumni. A glorious moment on the lives of those students and their families.
And over this past weekend, it also lost one all too soon.
The women’s basketball team announced that Gianna DeVeitro, a 2016 graduate and team manager for two seasons, had lost her battle with leukemia. She was diagnosed just a month after her graduation last year.
Head coach C. Vivian Stringer spoke after hearing of Gianna’s death. “I am at a total loss. Gianna embodied love, kindness and a spirit of giving. She was so special to me and our program. Gianna was a brilliant young person who had all the world in front of her. Throughout her illness, she always managed a smile and showed so much strength and courage beyond what anyone could imagine. I am grateful for the time we managed to spend together. Our thoughts are with Gianna's family and friends.”
Last January, Gianna teamed with the nonprofits Kier’s Kidz and DKMS to host a Bone Marrow Donor Registry Drive during the Rutgers women’s basketball contest with Northwestern. She wanted people to know what they could do to help.
Now, you may be wondering why I’m writing this. I didn’t know Gianna. But I know people who did. And it didn’t matter that I didn’t, or that you didn’t. Rutgers lost one of its own. I feel the same way whenever I hear of a young person passing away. As an educator - sadly - I saw too many of my students at their wakes, whether through illness or an accident. It’s always the same reaction for me: why? How is that possible? It. Isn’t. Fair. They’re just a kid.
We get embroiled in all sorts of things related to Rutgers and sports in general. How did we lose to that team? Why couldn’t we sign that kid? How come we don’t have a bigger endowment? But there are other questions we should ask, too.
Why isn’t there a cure for cancer? For leukemia?
Gianna was just a kid.
To find out more information on how to join the bone marrow registry and be matched as a potential life-saving donor visit www.dkms.org/en/register.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Gianna’s family and friends.