Brotherly love: Fairfield goalie Will Capalbo gets ready to donate bone marrow to brother Charlie
By his own admission Will Capalbo is reserved by modern day high school standards.
Even so, the Fairfield Ludlowe senior found himself having a moment in late January.
Capalbo’s spent much of the winter shuttling back-and-forth to the Dana Farber Institute in Boston as he prepares to undergo a bone marrow transplant to help his older brother Charlie, who is battling a form of haeukemia. At the same time Will Capalbo has found time to excel in goal for the combined Fairfield boys varsity ice hockey team.
“Last night I was driving myself home from pre-op appointments. It was pouring rain. I was just outside Boston,” Capalbo said by phone last month. “Did I ever think I’d be like this right now? Another part is, day by day, I just want to help my family and my brother and get through it together.
“There are times I sit there … what am I doing right now?”
Tuesday night Capalbo played in goal for Fairfield against Norwalk/McMahon. Afterwards he drove to Boston — with a camera crew from NBCSN’s “Hockey Day in America” in tow — to make final preparations for the transplant operation early next week.
On the ice, Capalbo’s play in goal — and lockerroom leadership — is a big reason why the Mustangs are 7-5-1.
“From a player standpoint, I’ve been in the zone,” Capalbo said. “I’m not distracted by it when I’m on the ice. I know that the school media videos the games sometimes, and my brother is watching. I’m thinking about him when I’m playing, but it’s not a distraction.”
Capalbo says the drives to Boston leaves him tired more than anything else, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. To prepare for the transplant he changed his diet and exercise routine, making him feel healthier. The experience also made him more-independent.
“I’m more, kind of, focused and in all areas. I can do this for my brother and it was a huge pick me up for everybody,” Will Capalbo said.
Charlie Capalbo also played hockey for Fairfield and was first diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoblastic lymphoma T-cell Stage 3 cancer in March of 2017. Treatments helped him put the disease into remission, but last October doctors found something in his spinal fluid. It was eventually diagnosed as a form of leukemia and prompted the need for the transplant.
When Will Capalbo found out he was a perfect match for his brother via a family FaceTime session, he didn’t even think twice.
“The past few years I’ve been there for him,” Will Capalbo said. “Now I can physically do something for it, instead of just being his brother.”
Capalbo remains optimistic about returning to the Fairfield squad by the playoffs. His teammates know losing him in goal — for at least the rest of the regular season — will be difficult, but they’ve rallied around the Capalbos and as a result have become a closer-knit unit. Fairfield continues to wear a patch for Charlie Capalbo on their jerseys and have raised money throughout the season to help.
“It’s definitely tough, but it’s making us stronger,” senior Kyle Mazzo said. “We’re playing for Charlie. We’re playing for Will. It’s bringing us together.”
Added Fairfield coach Carl Larouche, “It’s an amazing thing Will’s doing and we’re very proud of him.”