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The James Norton Council Knights of Columbus held its Blood & Bone Marrow drive in honor of 15-year-old Alex Mele, who was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), a fast-growing cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Alex is undergoing chemotherapy, and showing incredible courage along with his entire family.

It is very difficult to match marrow, from donors with a similar ethnic heritage, the chance is one in 20,000. From the general public, the chances are one in 100,000.

Connie Mele of Glen Cove told the Record Pilot she was grateful for the show of support and they will not know if a match was found for several weeks. In the meantime, she encouraged more of community to be involved in bone marrow donation. Time is of the essence right now.

"There are a bunch of kids out there that are hanging on thin ice. They don't have a match because not a lot people register to do this. There are thousands of kids on the waiting list worldwide, trying to find a match."

Ms. Mele directed people to a site called www.marrow.org, where information can be found on becoming a bone marrow donor.

The Glen Cove drive was very well-supported. Ron Pascucci, chairman of the Knights of Columbus reported that there were over 400 people who signed the registration book when they entered the Knights of Columbus Hall. He said they are sure that some slipped by without signing in as well. Out of the 400-plus people who came out to support Alex and the entire Mele family, 198 people registered to donate 178 units of blood.

Glen Cove C.A.R.E.S. agreed to cover the cost associated with the bone marrow registration and screening process. There were over 200 people who had been screened to be potential bone marrow donors for Alex or possibly anyone else whose life is in danger. Since no viable donor is currently registered, they are hoping for one through this blood and bone marrow drive. The National Marrow Donor Program was assisted by the Mele family, members of the Knights of Columbus along with students from the Glen Cove High School.

Knights of Columbus Chairman Ron Pascucci, whose family members, including his mother Rose, have led donor events for 55 years, said, "I would like to give heartfelt thanks to the officers and members of the Knights of Columbus for all their hard work including cooking, cleaning and handling the "swabbing", the officers and members of the Columbiettes for their hard work doing the baking, serving and registration. Special thanks to Maryann Driscol and Maureen Basdavanos of Glen Cove C.A.R.E.S., officers and members of the Glen Cove Volunteer Fire Department, all local fire departments and the 200 people who were screened to be potential bone marrow donors and the 198 people who had registered and were willing to donate blood. Without the gift of life the success of this drive would not have been possible." Pascucci continued, "I would like to say thank you to the entire Mele family who had participated in one way or another by bringing such a large crowd. Without your efforts in supporting this drive in all ways possible we could never get these astonishing numbers."

Deputy Grand Knight George Kranz was on hand and said, "This was by far a major event in Glen Cove and it was such an overwhelming feeling to see so many people come out to help support the family of Alex Mele. Now all we can do is hope and pray there is a match for Alex."

Anyone wishing to donate blood can call 1-800-933-2566 or visit www.nybloodcenter.org. For more information on the National Marrow Donor Program, as mentioned, go to www.marrow.org or call 1-800-627-7692.


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