“You’re my hero”: Stuntman Stu Meets His Bone Marrow Donor
Video by Amanda and Brittany van Frankfoort / Photos by @nixaov via Timeout with the Twins
How do you find the words to thank the person whose act of selflessness saved your life?
Two years ago, in February 2016, the Ottawa community was devastated to learn in a Facebook video that “Stuntman” Stu Schwartz – MAJIC 100 radio host, Ottawa Senators PA announcer and beloved community philanthropist – had been diagnosed with Leukemia.
Two months later, in April 2016, Schwartz shared a video update announcing what the Ottawa community had hoped for: a bone marrow donor had been found.
It is now two years later and this past Monday morning, Schwartz stood n the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport awaiting the arrival of his bone marrow donor from Israel —David Levi.
Staring at the elevator doors, an indescribable range of emotions duels on Schwartz’s face. The wait feels never-ending, both to his family and the small group of media gathered to capture the moment.
Schwartz’s youngest child, 10-year-old Isabella, eases the palpable anticipation and building emotions, remarking “you could have a three course meal in that elevator!” Everyone laughs and viewers who are tuned in to the MAJIC 100 Facebook live video comment their appreciation for the characteristically Isabella commentary.
The elevator doors finally open, revealing the face of the man who saved Schwartz’s life. For a moment no one moves, but soon the small crowd erupts with applause as Schwartz embraces Levi, “David.”
How do you find the words to thank the person who, without any expectation for gratification in return, gives you the opportunity to watch your children grow up?
Schwartz is immediately overcome with emotion and begins to cry, his arm tightly embracing Levi as he says “thank you.” Levi says in a voice thick with emotion, “thank you. You know why? Because I saw all the suffer[ing] that you went through. You are so brave. I admire you; I admire you.”
After a long hug, the pair introduce each other to their families.
Schwartz’s mother, Luba, is very emotional as she holds onto Levi’s arms and repeatedly says, “thank you, thank you, thank you.” Levi humbly says, “it was nothing.” Luba hugs him tightly and between sobs, says, “it was everything.”
The sound of camera shutters rarely cease for the next few minutes.
With Schwartz’s arm around her, Luba says she cannot find the words to thank Levi. “It was extremely emotional," she says. "He’s now apart of our family forever and ever. Every time I look at Stuart, I know who gave him life now, who gave him back to us.”
Consuelo Bernardi, Schwartz’s wife, says “he was really blessed that he was able to have that moment.”
She says that it was not surprising that Schwartz wanted the Ottawa community to share in his intimate moment through a live video because it was the community’s support that helped them through their nightmare.
“It’s Stu, you know him. I don’t think we could have gotten through it without the support of the MAJIC 100 listeners, the city of Ottawa, the Senators and the hockey world…they were just amazing. They embraced our family and embraced Stu.”
Levi’s daughter, Tahel, 18, says she and her brother Snir, 14, are proud of their father for saving Schwartz’s life, regardless of his status in the community. “I think that our father did a great thing and we’re so proud of him. We know that Stu is a big thing around here. It matters that (David) saved a life, it doesn’t matter who is the person.”
“He was really blessed that he was able to have that moment,” Connie says. “It has become closure for what our family has been through in the past two years.”
“I have never been that nervous in my life,” Stu reflects. “I have been waiting for this moment for two years and to see where I came from to where I am now, it is not even believable. It is like a dream…my nightmare is over.”
Tonight, the Schwartz family will accompany the Levi family to the Senators game, the Levi’s first hockey game.
To watch Timeout with the Twins’ short documentary about Schwartz’s story, click HERE.
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