The windows were rolled all the way up. The heat was turned to 80 degrees. The questions were coming hard.
Where are you from? What do you want to do in life?
This was a scene from inside Mike London’s car on St. Anne's-Belfield prom night 2014. London, full-time father as he is full-time Virginia football coach, was getting his 1-on-1 interview in with a suddenly sweating tuxedo-clad date of Ticynn, one of London’s seven children.
“I gave the prom date a hard time,” London said with a grin. “ ... I can’t say what his name is, but I probably butchered his name five different ways. But to his credit, he answered the questions. He was a perfect gentleman. And the date went off.
“It was a success.”
Check off another accomplishment in Ticynn London’s inspiring life.
“Everything’s a milestone,” Mike London said.
With base set up at the bottom of UVa’s McIntire Amphitheatre, the Cavalier football program hosted its fifth annual bone marrow registry drive on Monday afternoon. The event is a part of the “Get in the Game, Save A Life” program and benefits the “Be the Match Foundation.”
For the London family, it was another reminder of what happened 11 years ago when Mike, against 10,000 to 1 odds, was a successful match for Ticynn. Dad, at Johns Hopkins Hospital, donated bone marrow to Daughter, who was suffering from a rare blood disorder.
“We had the opportunity to experience what ‘Be The Match Foundation’ is all about,” London said Monday with his arm around Ticynn and eyes staring into a pair of television cameras. “Me being a donor to her. Now, here she is. She’s getting ready to go on to college, but she’s out here helping this worthy cause as well.”
London has been the man behind the UVa bone marrow drive since his hire in 2009. Now a half-decade old, the event has had successful results.
At least six participants in the program have been selected as matches and have undergone the donation procedure, including Cavalier senior safety David Marrs.
Marrs was selected as an exact match last spring and donated his marrow at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
“My experience with this has been absolutely amazing, life-changing,” Marrs said. “It’s a great experience. It opened my eyes to what we’re able to do as human beings, literally saving someone’s life.
“I signed up my first year. Coach London had a great influence on all of us to sign up and get out there and make a difference in the world. Thankfully, I was a match and was able to donate.”
London has always put an added emphasis on getting his Cavaliers to go beyond the football field to be visible, stressing principles of “Go to Class,” “Show Class” and “Treat People with Dignity and Respect.”
Monday’s participants included Wahoos from senior linebacker Daquan Romero to freshman defensive tackle Andrew Brown.
“When you come here, he tells you what we’re about, some of the things that we do,” Romero said. “This is like one of the most important things to him. He saved his daughter’s life. That’s a 1 in 10,000 chance.
“You have to embrace it. You have to be a part of this family. In order to be a part of this UVa family, you got to do the little things like this to help the community out and help save somebody’s life.”
Like London did for Ticynn in 2003.
On April 12, 2014, that miraculous effort was rewarded with a prom date.
Peppered with some selective questions, of course.
“He didn’t know everything that got her to where we are right now,” London said. “There’s some significance to it. So I wanted to make sure I grilled him.”
Ticynn, a STAB senior, understood.
“If I didn’t have a bone marrow donor,” she said, “I may not be here today.”