Hosting a memorial blood drive is the meaningful way to honor your loved one and continue the gift of life. ConnectLife representatives will help you through the process from choosing a time and date of the drive to getting the word out and recruiting blood donors.
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Memorial Blood Drives
In November 2010, at the age of 21, Andrew Gramza was in a tragic car accident and spent time at ECMC in the trauma unit where he received excellent care and numerous blood transfusions. Upon his passing, Andrew became a tissue donor and his family’s connection to Unyts began. Prior to his death. Andrew had been a regular blood donor with Unyts and was a registered organ and tissue donor. This instilled in his family the idea that they must somehow continue Andrew’s legacy, and as a result Andrew's Army was formed to raise awareness for organ, eye, tissue and blood donation. Many people have donated blood for the first time in Andrew's name, and others have become registered organ and tissue donors in his memory. Since the inception of Andrew’s Army, they have collected over 5,000 units of blood for local hospitals and raised over $100,000 for Unyts.
Eric’s infectious laugh, fun personality and easy-going spirit endeared him to everyone he met. Eric passed away at the age of 21 after a motorcycle accident. He was a registered donor and his tissue went on to help many patients in need. Eric’s family has received two letters of gratitude from recipients of his tissue. Though they miss him every day, the knowledge that Eric helped people he never met offers his family comfort. The family held Eric’s first “Angelversary” May 2014 and continues to honor him every year with a blood drive, Chinese Auction and raffles. All proceeds are donated back to Unyts.
Brandon started donating blood at the age of 16 and often would donate blood together with his mother at DeGraff hospital where she works. Sadly, Brandon had an untimely death at the age of 20 in 2013. His family now works to exemplify his passion by holding large community blood drives in his honor each year. They created a group called “Because of Brandon” which promotes the importance of blood donation in WNY. They hold annual blood drives in Brandon’s name at DeGraff Community Hospital every August. Over 100 family members, friends and community support this effort. The family holds a basket auction to raise money for a Scholarship they have set up to go to a high school student graduating that is pursuing a career in welding. Proceeds are also donated back to Unyts.
Kristina Moley was a vibrant, outgoing and energetic 19-year-old young lady who loved life. She loved shoes, fashion, animals and her friends. Most importantly was her love and affection for her family. She was to be a sophomore at St. John Fisher College when she lost her life on July 21, 2009 in a tragic car accident involving alcohol, her boyfriend being the driver. As an avid blood donor, she expressed to her family that she wanted to be an organ donor if the unthinkable should ever happen. She wanted to make a difference in someone's life and therefore she gave the ultimate gift.
The family continues her legacy and memory by speaking about DWI and its consequences. They are accompanied by her boyfriend, convicted of Vehicular Manslaughter, and his mother. Kristina also left us with the gift of forgiveness, as DWI has affected all of our lives. The family has spoken to many high schools within Niagara County, Victims Impact Panel at NCCC and the Niagara County Traffic Fair. It is their goal to finish what Kristina has started. They speak about their personal experience of losing their daughter to DWI as well as sponsoring a memorial blood drive in Kristina's honor while making aware the importance of organ donation. UNYTS has given the family personal support while offering them a chance to keep their daughter, Kristina’s, memory alive.
Nolan, who was just two months into his university career and planning to major in pre-sports management, was only 18 years old when he joined a fraternity. Burch was pressured into drinking and was found unconscious and not breathing during a pledge process. He died 2 days later from blood alcohol poisoning. CPR helped save Nolan’s lungs, kidneys and liver so that they could be donated for transplants. Four people received Nolan’s organs, including a 23-year-old male college student.
The physical presence of part of Nolan inside other people offers some comfort for the Burches, who have traveled to West Virginia to give talks encouraging organ donation. The family has set up a Foundation “NMB” in memory of Nolan. The mission is “"Through education and awareness we seek to put an end to hazing and to empower you to make the difference between life and death."
An accomplished high school athlete, Tommy dreamed of one day becoming a firefighter and a police officer. He went on to join the U.S. Air Force Reserves as a member of the Air Force Security Forces and become a volunteer firefighter with the Youngstown Volunteer Fire Company, all by the age of 20.
Then on June 18, 2013, Tommy's short, but impactful life came to a sudden end when he was involved in a fatal motorcycle accident on his way home from firefighter training. Grief-stricken, his mother was unable to face many of the difficult decisions that would follow. But one thing was certain: Tommy would be a donor.
The family continues to heal and honors Tommy's memory through a memorial blood drive that has touched the lives of hundreds.
Travis loved camping, excelled in all sports, but soccer was his favorite. His athletic abilities were impressive – he could run up a wall, jump in the air and do a back flip off the wall. He was fearless since he was a toddler, jumping off the back of the couch and in later years cliff diving. After graduating from High school, Travis was studying physical education at JCC and wanted to be a gym teacher. He loved children and would have been a great teacher. Unfortunately, Travis died binge drinking at the age of 20.
Travis was a great young man who was funny, caring, thoughtful and loving. Travis would help anyone in need and he continued his caring and giving generosity in his final gift as a tissue and eye donor to help others through Unyts. To date, his donations have helped 71 individuals in WNY live a better life. His family holds blood drives in his name.
Six months before our son Tyler was in a tragic car crash, he spoke to us and made it clear that if anything were to happen to him, he wanted to help others through the gift of donation. Though the accident took him from us all too soon, he lives on in so many through his cornea and tissue donations. Tyler is our hero, just like everyone who donates is a hero. The family made a vow to continue on a journey with Unyts, to make a difference just like Tyler did. Each year they hold a golf outing in memory of Ty, and a portion of the proceeds go to Unyts’ educational programs so that students can learn about the importance of organ, eye, tissue and community blood donation. They host an annual blood drive in Tyler’s honor, so that our friends, family and neighbors can join in Tyler’s legacy of giving. Participating and supporting Unyts’ events such as the Donate Life Walk and the annual Gift of Life Dinner have also become an important part of the Gabbey Family.
Michael Gregory had a very difficult start to his life but was adopted by a wonderful family when he was 10 years old. He captured the heart of all who knew him. He loved to play sled hockey and wheelchair baseball. Michael embraced life and communicated his love through his expressive eyes and beautiful smile. His gift was love, joy and the ability to connect and teach so much to those who knew him. At age 20, Michael passed away. His eyes were donated and that gift is more of the love that Michael passes on.
Peter Gaskin was Michael’s aid. They were best pals. Peter was an avid volunteer for Special Olympics. He was enthusiastically involved in caring for individuals both young and old with special needs. Peter passed away shortly after Michael.
4 blood drives have been held in their honor, collecting 63 units of blood and impacting up to 189 lives.
James A. Laible
James A. Laible was a loving husband and father of 3 children. He also had 9 grandchildren that were the love of his life! He was a true inspiration to them and to all that knew him. Mr. Laible was a Vietnam Veteran and local business man, owning his own heating and cooling business for 16 years before working at Irr Supply as an award-winning technical service advisor, training employees and customers. He served as Vice President at the St. Vincent de Paul Society and an usher at St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church in Lancaster. Mr. Laible passed away in 2011.
4 memorial blood drives have been held in his honor, collecting 129 units of blood and impacting 387 lives.
Paul Englert Jr.
Paul N. Englert, Jr. was a happy, healthy 19 year old who was described by everyone as having a big smile and a hearty laugh who had the ability to make others feel good. Paul was very close with his family and enjoyed woodworking with his grandfather and waterskiing and flying a small plane with his Uncle. He worked hard, sometimes having multiple jobs, but he also played hard, as the Captain of his Lacrosse team, as well as many other sports. He was a huge Georgia Bulldogs fan and loved to attend games with his parents. Paul was enrolled at UB in the Civil Engineering program and was looking forward to graduating in a few years and beginning his career. Paul passed away suddenly in September 2013 due to a pulmonary embolism.
Because of Paul’s participation in the Donate Life Club at St. Joe’s High School, his parents knew of his wishes regarding donation. Paul was a donor and has impacted many lives. Paul’s parents also hold a blood drive in his honor every September. They have held 3 blood drives, collecting 149 units of blood.
Christopher Krencik was a happy and easy going young man, who had a large circle of friends. Christopher was diagnosed with a rare form bacterial meningitis called Listeria. Upon his passing, Christopher's family donated his organs knowing that it was something he would have wanted. Christopher died 2 days after his 25th birthday. Every year since Christopher's death, we have held a memorial blood drive through Unyts. Over 100 units of life saving blood have been collected in Christopher's name.
Ken was being treated for serious complications from Ulcerative Colitis and PSC. During the last 4 months of his life, he received 100 units of blood products, and then after 15 days on the transplant list, He received the Gift of Life through an organ donation with a new liver. Unfortunately, Ken did not survive the surgery and passed away June 24, 2016. It was his wish to replace what was given to him so unselfishly.The family’s goal is to replenish the need with those 100 units of blood, and sign-up 15 new Organ Donors in his memory. The song “Humble and Kind” emulates who Ken was, how he lived his life, and what his memory is: “Don’t take for granted the love this life gives you, when you get where you’re going, don’t forget to turn back around and help the next one in line, always stay Humble and Kind.”
Tim passed away in March of 2016 from a rare degenerative neurological disease. He was a dedicated husband, father, son and brother. His family always came first especially his two sons, Timothy and Jeffrey. He also loved the outdoors especially hunting and fishing. Even while sick, he lit up when his grandchildren came over. He was a very happy person and always had a big smile. Some called him a gentle giant because he was a big man with an even bigger heart.
He would do anything for anyone, even complete strangers. He was a regular blood donor for many years and donated his body and brain to science for research. The family hosted a blood drive in memory of Tim.
First and foremost, my son passed away at home so we were not able to donate “major” organs. However, there is a legacy that we were able to donate in his honor that meant a great deal to our family. Scott was a sophomore Poetry major at Yale University. My son loved poetry! This information was unknown to the staff at Unyts. On the day of his wake I was blessed to receive a call from Unyts who wanted me to know that on that very day his corneas were being donated. One was to an 88 year old woman (I work with the elderly whom I dearly love working with) and the other, which brought great happiness and peace to me, was donated to a 19 year old student who just happened to attend a local college where she was a poetry major! Someone was seeing through my son’s eyes the same deep love of poetry that he did. Incredible!
Scott was 21 years old when he died. One thing you should know too about him was that he was a big procrastinator! I was amazed when I received the call on the afternoon of his death, January 30, 2010, that he had actually signed up to be a donor. But at Canisius High School they had a sign up day and because he got some kick from heaven, he signed up! I am glad!
The Robinson family have been holding a memorial blood drive since 2011 and have collected 91 pints.
Chris loved all kinds of music, his kitties Gary & Morty, hiking in Zoar Valley, his family, quiet weekends at home, and most especially, his beloved fiancée Maggie. At age 26 he was very much looking forward to his July 2017 marriage and someday becoming a father. Chris also found great joy in giving to others in need when it wasn’t always an easy thing to do. In fact, to go beyond what was expected of him, when no one knew that he was helping those in need, seemed to be when he was the happiest! He served pothers with humor, enthusiasm, respect and genuine love! To give to Unyts in terms of a blood drive and organ donation after his brother Scott died in 2010 made all the sense in the world. Always help others, why shouldn’t you? That was our Christopher! We honored his wishes by donating after his sudden passing because Christopher believed in always reaching out to those in need. Christopher was also a 2 gallon blood donor.
Stephanie Moore Verratti
Stephanie was a young woman of great distinction in our Lockport community. She was an outgoing and loving daughter, wife and friend. Stephanie loved playing soccer, spending time with family and friends, and giving back to her church and community. She took on many leadership roles within her lifetime. It was very important to Stephanie to guide youth toward a promising direction. We want to continue in Stephanie’s example by giving back to the community through this blood drive. Her selfless decision to be an organ donor is inspiring to all who came to know her and continue to be influenced by her legacy.