Point Loma residents Matt Alcantara, Wendy Eifert and Will Herrin know the power of friendship. They began elementary school together and are now freshmen at Point Loma High School (PLHS). They’ve known each other for more than a decade now.
When Alcantara, 15, was diagnosed with bone cancer following an x-ray in March, Eifert and Herrin decided to create a community in which everyone is doing their part to advocate for him.
“It is incredible how much grace and comfort you get when you feel the arms of your village wrap around you and remind you that you are not alone,” said Alcantara’s mother, Erin.
Alcantara started his first round of chemotherapy several weeks ago. While he will undergo treatment for a year, Eifert and Herrin plan to stick by him every step of the way.
To help show moral support for their longtime friend and to help his family offset medical expenses — primarily for surgery and rehabilitation — Eifert and Herrin have designed “Matt” wristbands and stickers they are selling at school every Friday for $2 each.
“I was talking with my family, and all we wanted to do was find a way to help out,” said Eifert. “We remembered the ‘live strong bands’ for Lance Armstrong and thought, ‘Why not have them for Matt?’ When I shared the idea with Ms. Samilson, the principal at PLHS, she said we could have wristband sales at the high school each week.”
A donation account for Alcantara has been opened at the U.S. Bank on Chatsworth Boulevard across from the high school. Eifert and Herrin hope that many people will buy and wear the wristbands and display the stickers on their cars so that Alcantara will see them when he is home from the hospital and know that others in the community care.
In conjunction with the sales, Herrin has also designed his first website in hope of expanding the fundraising effort to those outside the school community. His website — www.mattalcantara.com — allows people to order wristbands and stickers and make a donation directly to Alcantara’s account.
“Wendy organized the wristband sales at the school and my dad opened up the donation account at U.S. Bank while I was designing a website for people to donate money, order wristbands and stickers online,” said Herrin.
“I did this to provide people the convenience of helping the family from their home and to allow out-of-state friends and family members the ability to help. We have actually received a donation all the way from Australia.”
The website also offers other ways to support the family and gives information about a San Diego Blood Bank account that has been set up for Alcantara.
"It means so much that Wendy and Will care enough about me to do all of this,” said Alcantara. “They are true friends.”
For more information or to donate, call (619) 379-1496, or visit www.mattalcantara.com.