Hosting a memorial blood drive is the perfect way to honor your loved one and continue the gift of life. Unyts 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.
For more information contact Linda Sollie:
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 1484 units of blood for local hospitals and have raised over $84,000 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.
36 pints, 1 drive
When their son, Brandon, died at age 20 in 2013, Paul and Mary Beth Kupiec knew they wanted to do something to continue his legacy, while also giving back to the community as he had during his life. Mary Beth Kupiec remembers her son coming to her at the age of 16 with a blood donation permission slip. As a nervous mother who had never given blood before, she agreed to let him go through with it as long as they could do it together.
After that first donation, the two continued to donate together on a regular basis. Kupiec also remembers her son taking a step further with his dedication to the donation cause. When DeGraff was running low on blood needed for transfusions, he and his friends would volunteer to help out with a few extra pints.
He and his mother donated together until the time of his death. Afterward, his parents decided to continue the tradition through a memorial blood drive in his honor, as a way to continue their son’s caring and generous nature.
Mary Beth Kupiec is the volunteer coordinator at DeGraff Memorial Hospital and is in charge of all blood drives, so this allowed her to directly organize the “Brandon Kupiec Memorial” blood drive with Unyts.
The memorial blood drive has since expanded to include a basket raffle and special giveaways. The funds from the basket raffle will be used to award a scholarship to a student during the following school year. The Kupiec family has special criteria that the scholarship winner must fulfill. The student must attend Orleans Niagara BOCES Welding School, where Brandon Kupiec had graduated, and must be set apart from other students by their ability, effort and attitude. Teachers at the school choose students who they believe fulfill the criteria, and the Kupiec family then selects the scholarship winner from the nominees. The first Brandon Kupiec Memorial Scholarship was awarded this year, using funds from last year’s basket raffle.
215 pints, 2 drives
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.
Kristina’s family honors her legacy and memory by speaking about DWI and its consequences. They are accompanied by her boyfriend, convicted of Vehicular Manslaughter, and his mother. It is the Moleys’ goal to finish what Kristina has started. They speak about their personal experience of losing a daughter to DWI as well as sponsoring a memorial blood drive in Kristina's honor, while also promoting the importance of organ donation. Unyts has given the Moley family personal support while offering them a chance to keep Kristina’s memory alive.
143 pints, 3 drives
40 pints, 1 drive
Nolan's family raised almost $2,000 for Unyts and over $3,000 for CORE.
www.NMBfoundation.com is the foundation site. All money is used to educate High School and College Students through Nolan’s story, including information about organ donation.
An accomplished high school athlete, Tommy dreamed of one day becoming a firefighter and a police officer. He joined 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.
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 Kathy was unable to face many of the difficult decisions that would follow. But one thing was certain: Tommy would be a donor.
With the love and support of her family, Kathy continues to heal and honors Tommy's memory through a memorial blood drive that has touched the lives of hundreds.
"This process has affirmed my support of organ, eye and tissue donation," said Kathy. "It has been an important part of my healing journey, and I take some comfort knowing that Tommy's wishes to become a donor were able to be fulfilled. I hope to someday meet those who received Tommy's gift of eyes and tissue."
57 pints, 1 drive
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.
The family has just started doing annual blood drives this year and have collected 14 pints to date.
Tyler Gabbey died in 2009 at the age of 18. Tyler had spoken of how he wanted to become a donor if anything were to ever happen to him. When a car accident took his life, the Gabbey family honored his wishes, and Tyler was a cornea and tissue donor.
Since Ty’s death, the Gabbeys have spread the word about the importance of donation and registering new organ and tissue donors. They have supported Unyts’ work through blood drives and by making Unyts a beneficiary of the annual Ty Gabbey Memorial Golf Outing.
Though the accident took Tyler from his family all too soon, he lives on in so many through his cornea and tissue donations.
The Gabbeys have 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 their 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’s lives.
32 pints, 2 drives
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.
2 blood drives have been held in their honor, collecting 42 units of blood and impacting up to 126 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 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 held a blood drive in his honor in September 2014 collecting enough blood to impact 156 lives.
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.