Scott Logdon is a tried-and-true, blue-bleeding University of Kentucky basketball fan. He doesn't think there's much chance UK could lose to the University of Wisconsin in their Final Four matchup Saturday night, but in that unlikely event, he would go ahead and cheer for Wisconsin in the NCAA men's championship game Monday night.
And no, not because the other team might be Duke. It's because he now carries inside him a little bit of Wisconsin: tiny cells of bone marrow that saved his life.
"I still bleed blue, even if I have some Badger blood," Logdon said.
Back in 2012, the Salvisa resident went to his doctor with what he thought was a case of strep throat. The doctor gave him a prescription, but to be safe, she took a blood sample, too.
By that evening, Logdon was in a room at the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center, preparing to start an intensive regimen of chemotherapy to combat acute myeloid leukemia, a disease that strikes about 18,000 adults a year.
Without the chemo, doctors told Logdon and his wife, Angela, that he would be dead within weeks. Chemo would help, but the only thing that could really stop the leukemia was a bone marrow transplant.
Luckily for Logdon, two years earlier, a University of Wisconsin freshman named Chris Wirz was walking to the library when he saw his cousin at a National Marrow Donor Registry event, now known as the Be The Match Registry. More to help her out than anything else, he signed up, got his cheek swabbed, and went on his way. There was only about a 1 in 100,000 chance he'd match someone, they told him.
Wirz's odds were better. By January 2013, he was on his way to Washington, D.C. to donate bone marrow. Shortly after that, Logdon got his transplant.
Logdon took leave from his job as chief deputy at Woodford County Detention Center in Versailles, wore a face mask to prevent him from infection, and slowly started to get better.
After a year, according to the national registry, donors and donees are allowed to meet if both sides agree. The Logdons and their four kids sent letters to Chris, begging him to let them thank him in person.
On April 5, 2014, Logdon had just finished watching UK squeak out its one-point Final Four victory over Wisconsin. He went on Facebook and noticed some guy from Wisconsin had friended him. Logdon didn't accept, thinking it was a Wisconsin fan trying to give him some virtual grief. Shortly after, Angela got a notification that Wirz was willing to meet them.
He called and talked to the Logdons for two hours. In July, Wirz, his mother and his sister drove down to the Logdons' house.
"I knew I wanted to meet him from the beginning," Logdon said. "We just wanted to thank him in person, because saying thank you is just not enough; it's not enough for what he did for me and my family."
Or as Angela Logdon said: "If Chris hadn't signed up, my life might be very different right now."
Now it's April 2015 and UK and Wisconsin are again meeting in the Final Four, an occasion that both the Logdons and Wirz are using to get the word out about bone marrow donations.
"It still feels surreal to me," Wirz said in a phone interview from Madison, where he's now a senior. "For me to (donate) was so easy, but then I saw someone's family and their life, and it turned out to be one of the most significant things I've ever done in my life. It's still hard to process that what I did means he's still around."
Wirz wants to dispel misconceptions about bone marrow donation, which once was a lengthy and painful operation. Now you can join the registry with a cheek swab. If that looks good to the registry, you give a blood sample.
After Wirz matched with Logdon, he took some medication to pump his stem cell production, then he spent a few hours in a hospital bed as blood was taken out of one arm, put through a centrifuge to remove marrow cells and platelets, then put back in the other arm. The only side effect, he said, was fatigue.
The bone marrow registry has stepped up events on college campuses because the donor age runs between 18 and 44, and youthful cells seem to work the best, Logdon said.
The Be The Match Registry (bethematch.org) has grown to 9 million donors and facilitates more than 5,200 transplants a year for blood cancer victims around the world.
Wirz is still a donor and would like to give again. His sister runs the Be The Match Registry at the Wisconsin campus in Oshkosh, and often uses him and Logdon as an example.
Logdon also wants to get the word out that younger generations might not be as indifferent as they are often portrayed. "There are some great kids in the younger generations," he said.
Logdon is a youth minister at Evergreen Baptist in Frankfort and says it's easy to persuade kids there to sign up as donors once they turn 18.
As for the big game, Wirz will be rooting for the Badgers all the way, and if UK wins, well, he'll have to see.
"I want to say yes, but I always have to root for the underdog," he said. "I'll do my best, but I can't make any promises."