Alden residents, Dale and Lori Gramza, were interviewed on LCTV on January 8th. They appeared on WNY Tonight with Tammie Lee Demler.
Lori and Dale spoke of losing their son, Andrew, in 2010 when he was 21 years old. Andrew spent two weeks in the ECMC Trauma Unit after a serious car accident. Andrew was the recipient of many units of blood during his stay, some coming from as far away as Syracuse. Dale explained that this opened their eyes to the need for blood donations. He stated that they wanted to give back and help make sure that no patient or family has to worry about not having access to lifesaving blood. This began Andrew’s Army.
Andrew’s Army sponsors 5 blood drives per year and as of this date has donated 2,800 units of blood in Andrew’s memory. One blood drive (in June) is sponsored in conjunction with a basket raffle. Over $150,000 has been raised since the first blood drive/raffle.
Lori explained that all blood donations through Connect Life (formerly known as Unyts) stays in the local area. She stated that her and Dale’s focus has changed a bit over time. In addition to blood drives, the donor parents (Andrew was able to donate his heart valves, was a registered organ donor, and a blood donor) are involved with raising awareness of the need for blood and organ donations.
The have begun offering three $1,000 college scholarships per year to Alden High School Seniors.
The Gramzas agreed that this venture has given them a much needed focus after losing their son. They credit the kindness and generosity of the community for helping them to continue on their mission.
The next blood drive is scheduled for January 25th from 9 am-2 pm at the Alden Legion. Walk-ins are always welcome.
The June 2020 Basket Raffle and Blood Drive is expected to include some new attractions.