Doctor organizes “Man Olympics” to honor brother

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Matt and Jen Priddy. (Submitted photos)

Matt and Jen Priddy. (Submitted photos)

Often a cancer fundraiser will involve a black-tie dinner or a concert.

But when Dr. Matt Priddy decided to honor his brother Joel, who died of T-cell lymphoma in 2004 at age 24, he went a different route.

Matt decided to go with tricycle races, Jell-O pits and water balloons in a slingshot.

It’s called the “Man Olympics” and last time they raised around $5,600 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Matt and his wife Jennifer, an OB-GYN, have hosted the event at their house every year since 2010. They took last year off while Matt ran his successful campaign for LLS Man of Year for Indianapolis, a campaign where he raised $186,000 an individual state record. This year, their fundraiser is on July 25.

Matt, who grew up in Carmel, was very close to Joel, who is two years younger. They both attended IU and were roommates during their senior year of undergrad and during medical school. They bought a house together and we’re on the same path when Joel was diagnosed with cancer at the end of his second year of med school. He died a year later.

“Not very long from diagnosis to when he passed away,” he said. “It’s the number one cancer that young people get. So if you’re talking about a child or a young person, you’re statistically probably talking about a blood cancer. It’s a waster of potential.”

Matt, who now lives in Westfield, said Joel was more outgoing than he was and would easily be described as an extrovert. Joel was the social chair for his fraternity and could gather masses of freshmen – Matt joked that they were his minions – for a project such as constructing a three-story water slide out of lumber off the side of the frat house.

“If Joel was in charge of the Man Olympics, there’d probably be a thousand people,” he said.

He said it was just the kind of event that his brother would have loved. Like something straight out of the movie, “Revenge of the Nerds.”

“It’s the kind of thing that you’d think up late at night at a bar,” Matt joked.

It’s grown every year and in 2013 there were 80 participants. He hopes to raise $10,000 in 2015 and thinks that maybe someday the fundraiser could get big enough that they find a larger venue for the event.

Matt’s accomplished quite a lot in his lifetime. He’s co-owner of Priority Physicians, a private pay practice and he was named to the Indianapolis Business Journal’s “40 under 40” in 2013. But he said raising money for blood cancers is something he’s most proud of. He’s been asked to join the board for LLS and expects to join soon.

One of the reasons he said it’s very satisfying is because of all the progress made with blood cancers recently.

“The cancer that he died of, in the past fifteen years, the survival rate has gone way up,” he said. “There are cancers that we unfortunately aren’t making progress with but with blood cancers every year the death rates go down.”

To donate to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, visit donate.lls.org.

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