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Cancer survivor giving back to the community
Matthew Chambers graduates from Georgia Southern, helps fund Hearts and Hands Clinic
Matthew Chambers Web
A cancer survivor who helped a Statesboro health clinic raise more than $5,000, Matthew Chambers will graduate today from Georgia Southern University. - photo by LORI GRICE/special

Among the thousands of Georgia Southern University students donning caps and gowns for commencement today is a young man who doctors claimed would never live the moment.
Despite a prognosis that Matthew Chambers would not experience even a first day of school, let alone his last, the Georgia Southern senior is concluding an undergraduate education and currently striving to help others overcome long odds of their own.
Chambers, approximately 20 years after being diagnosed with leukemia, is dedicating time, effort and money to benefit Statesboro’s Hearts and Hands Clinic.
The Atlanta-native, who will begin working towards a Master’s Degree in the fall, helped raise more than $5,000 since January for the non-profit clinic that provides free health care to Bulloch County’s uninsured.
A desire to benefit the clinic originated as a result of Chambers’ early childhood experiences.
“When I was about 2 years old, I was severely sick and doctors said it would be a miracle if I lived past the age of 5e,” he said.
But when Shriners Hospitals for Children learned of the situation, “they pretty much took over all of my medical bills and saved my life.”
With the assistance of the non-profit Shriners Hospital, Chambers was proclaimed cancer-free when 5 years old.
“When I heard about [Hearts and Hands] through my applied business management course, and had the opportunity to raise money for the clinic, I took it as a chance to give back,” he said. “I knew I would never be able to repay anybody for saving my life, but this provided an opportunity to grow as a person and help the community.”
Since the beginning of Georgia Southern’s spring semester, Chambers, through the university’s ‘Students in Free Enterprise’ program, worked to raise awareness and $5,175 for Hearts and Hands through various community and on-campus events.
“I was the CEO of a project called Project Five Stacks, which originated from our applied business management course,” he said. “I was the group leader of 14 individuals who worked throughout the semester to market and raise awareness for the clinic.”
According to Chambers, the student group partnered with Statesboro eatery 119 Chops for an event in which 10 percent of the restaurant’s single night earnings were donated to the clinic. The night drew one of the restaurant’s largest crowds ever – which included Congressman John Barrow – and collected about $1,700 for the hospital, he said.
The students also hosted a benefit concert that included various local acts, organized a carnation sell for Valentines Day, and continually sell bracelets at Gray’s College Bookstore.
The contributions made by Chambers and his classmates are invaluable to the hospital, said DeWayne Grice, president of the Board of Directors for the Hearts and Hands Clinic.
“The students raised awareness and significant, critical dollars for us throughout the community,” he said. “All of the funds they have raised will go toward providing healthcare needs to people in our community. Our estimation is that it costs us about $100 to $150 to take care of a patient, so the gift they have provided to us can help serve an additional 50 patients. It is a tremendous gift.”
Chambers said he would like to raise $60,000 through multiple projects before completing school in two years. 
“We will definitely continue to raise money over the next couple of years,” he said. “This is my way of showing thanks. It is an amazing thing for the community and I know how important it is because I have seen its impact. I feel blessed to be a part of the clinic and able to raise funds that help it succeed.”
“Matthew’s story is really amazing,” said Grice. “It is so heart-warming to have a kid that has been through what he has, to want to give back like he has. He has touched all of us at the clinic and become really special to us.”

Jeff Harrison can be reached at (912) 489-9454

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