Helping a stranger, Grand Strand man becomes real life super hero

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) Helping others is something one young man on the Grand Strand loves to do. He's hosted volleyball tournaments to raise money for ALS and now is growing his hair long to donate to those in need.

But it's something else this teenager did that has people calling him a super hero.

Saving a life in spandex and a mask will put you on a big screen in summer blockbuster movies.

Ethan Atkinson doesn't have any web slinging skills though, at least none that I'm aware of.

"I want to help people, that's what I want to do," Atkinson said. "It all started in class one day, I was stopped in the hallway."

He's referring to a simple and really random thing he did one day in college.

"I'd never heard of it before," Atkinson said of the organization called Be The Match.

A quick swab of the mouth is all it took to get started.  Over the last 25 years Be The Match ®  has helped thousands of people diagnosed with life-threatening blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma.

They manage a donor registry to connect people in need with people willing to donate.

That's where Ethan's "Super Hero" stem

cell donating powers came in for a person he had never met.

"53 year old guy with leukemia," Atkinson said. "That's all they told you.."


No face and no name for the destination of his stem cells but yet this young man over a thousand miles away still saw a chance to be that last lifeline. For now all he can do is write a letter but one day he hopes to meet that man in person and talk about what he says has been a life changing experience for him as well.

"That's my dad, that's 53 years old, that's my volleyball partner," Atkinson said. "I'd hope somebody would help me and help my dad out. It feels awesome that I'm in a position in life where I can help people and I want to continue helping people."

Before Ethan left for the procedure, his family and friends threw him a surprise super hero fish fry. It was a chance to honor someone who is definitely a real life super hero.

The man who gets those stem cells will actually have his blood change to match Ethan's. It's essentially a new birthday for him with a new chance at life.

Ethan says after his success, many of his friends also signed up with Be The Match.


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