When Greg Friel completed his final season of organized basketball in the spring of 2003, he was named the recipient of Dartmouth basketball’s John Dilorio Award for hustle, drive and determination. Little did he know that seven years later he would be diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RMSS), leaving him without the ability to play the game he has loved his entire life.
Friel was a four-year letter winner for the Dartmouth men’s basketball team from 1999 to 2003 and team captain during his senior year. Over the course of his career in Hanover, the 6′ 5″ shooting guard averaged 4.2 points a game, as his teams went 34-74 overall and 14-42 in conference play.
Friel scored over 1,000 points for Oyster River (NH) High School and spent a year at the New Hampton School, where he led the team to the 1998 New England Class A Prep finals. He had planned on attending UNC-Wilmington. However, he changed his mind and accepted an offer to play at Dartmouth, since the team was coached by Dave Faucher, a former University of New Hampshire assistant under Gerry Friel, Greg’s father. Since the Seahawks would not let him out of his commitment, he had to sit out the 1998-99 season.
The former economics major eventually became a financial advisor and has run organization for the last nine years. After suffering from headaches, lethargy and severe leg pains, Greg was diagnosed with RRMS in 2010, according to Fosters.com. In general, the prognosis for individuals diagnosed with MS at an earlier age is worse than those who develop the condition at a later age. He has been going through physical and pharmaceutical treatment over the last seven years, but his health continues to decline.
A cousin, who also had been diagnosed with RRMS, went to Russia for Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT) therapy three years ago, and has had significant improvement in his health per Fosters.com. HSCT uses radiation or chemotherapeutic agents to destroy a patient’s immune system before transplanting multipotent hematopoietic stem cells derived from bone marrow, peripheral blood, or umbilical cord blood. This therapy has been used for multiple myeloma and leukemia for years, but is now being used for MS. Since there is a high mortality rate with this therapy, it is only considered for life-threatening diseases. If successful, there is the potential for halting the progression of the condition and possible reversal of earlier damage.
After being on a wait list for three and a half years, Friel has been approved for this treatment at the AA Prigov Facility in Moscow in late September. The cost for travel and treatment is $100,000 and the procedures are reportedly not covered by his medical insurance. As a result, Greg’s spouse and immediate family have started a GoFundMe campaign. For those who are interested, information about the fundraiser can be found here.