Friday, 25 February 2011 00:00
Each year, more than a million people are newly diagnosed with cancer and statistics show that many will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatments. Such was the case for Sarah Grace Weippert, who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in February 2002.
“Sarah was diagnosed with cancer when she was 11 and passed away nine months later. During her illness, she received almost daily transfusions of blood, plasma and platelets,” said Sarah’s father, Matt Weippert. “Blood drives were held in Sarah’s honor to help provide for her much needed transfusions.”
Following their daughter’s death, Matt, along with his wife Marissa and son James established a board of directors and formed the Hicksville-based Sarah Grace Foundation for Children With Cancer, Inc., an all volunteer 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to improving the quality of life of children with cancer while at the same time offering comfort and support to their families.
For the past three years, the Foundation has held a blood drive in Sarah’s memory; this year’s 3rd Annual Sarah Grace Weippert Memorial Blood Drive will take place Saturday, March 26 at the William P. Bennett Community Center, 28 West Carl St. in Hicksville, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
A single blood donation – when divided into red blood cells, platelets and plasma – can help up to three people. According to the Long Island Blood Services’ website (www. nybloodcenter.org), close to 2,000 donations a day are needed to ensure an adequate community blood supply. However, supplies at local blood centers are at an all-time low. In fact, this winter’s severe storms and frigid temperatures have resulted in reduced donations while demand remains at an all-time high. At press time, Type O Negative, Type O Positive and Type A were in immediate demand.
“March 31 is Sarah’s birthday; this year she would be 21,” said Weippert. “Blood cannot be manufactured; it can only be given as a gift. There is no better way to honor the lost life of a young girl than by giving this ‘gift of life.’ What a beautiful birthday present!”
The Sarah Grace Foundation works directly with social workers and staff members from the Pediatric Oncology Departments at various New York hospitals including Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York (formerly Schneider’s Children’s Hospital). In this capacity, the foundation is able to help meet children’s wishes, whether it be a special toy, crafts or tickets to a baseball game or other special event. And, because cancer impacts the entire family and not just the sick child, the foundation also provides services to the siblings.
Additionally, the foundation provides financial support and other assistance to help families offset non-covered medical costs and other related expenses. To do so, the Sarah Grace Foundation relies heavily on donations from the community. Additionally, the foundation holds an annual fundraiser, A Night of Laughter. This year’s event is scheduled for Friday, April 8 at the Milleridge Cottage.
For more information or to schedule an appointment to donate at the 3rd Annual Sarah Grace Weippert Memorial Blood Drive, email Matt.Weippert@ TheSarahGraceFoundation.org or call the Foundation at 433-9745. Donors must weigh at least 110 pounds, be between the ages of 16-76 (16-year-olds need parental consent; 76 and older need doctors note) and have a signed photo ID. For additional information on donating blood, contact Long Island Blood Services at 1-800-933-2566.