When the treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was not helping Keith Lapenta, doctors began looking for a bone marrow match among his relatives but didn’t find one.
Keith, Stephanie, and Heidi Lapenta at the donor drive.
So Lapenta’s wife, Heidi, organized a donor drive at their church, Avery Street Christian Reformed Church in South Windsor, Conn.
On a snowy January Saturday, many people showed up at the church to get swabbed, bring food, or just to support the family. By day’s end, 77 new donors had registered, and over $11,000 was raised to support the program.
Tracy Julian, account executive for the National Marrow Donor Program, was pleased with the turnout. “It was a very special event for me, and heartwarming to see.”
Jonathan O’Neill, one of the donors from Avery Street Church, came “because of what Keith is going through. I wanted to be available for Keith or anyone else whose marrow matches mine.”
The Lapentas said they felt “truly blessed and moved by so many people willing to help.”
In the end, there were three close matches for Keith Lapenta, so when the time comes for a transplant, he will have a donor.