Joe’s story is incredible… so excited for this.

joeyevoli:

This is the NYC Tech Blood Drive’s official announcement (click to sign up).  The first drive will be Sept. 24th, 11am-5pm.  It’s something I’ve organized with the help of the Red Cross, and fellow Techstars alumni Crowdtwist and Redrover.  My plan is to make this a regularly occurring event in the NYC Tech Community.



For those of you who know me, you may know that I’ve been terrified of needles my entire life.  However, in March I donated blood for the first time.  How is it possible that, in a span of 4 months, I went from being incredibly afraid of even getting my finger pricked, to organizing a blood drive?  As usual, I’ll try to be as open and honest as I can be with the answer.

As some of you already know, my mother, my little cousin, and my unborn brother/sister passed away when I was 2 years old, from a car accident I was in.  My mother saved my life.  From what I’ve read over the years, it’s my understanding that people who experience a traumatic event, generally personalize the event and take responsibility for it in many ways.  In my case, this is absolutely true.  I’ve lived my entire life with a thought in the back of my mind, “Why am I alive, and not her?”  In this case, I know I’m not responsible for her death.  But, I do feel a tremendous amount of pressure and responsibility to remember I’m here because of her, and to live life with a purpose.  

Fast forward 21 years:

The summer of 2006, my dad, sick with cancer for the past 9 months was deteriorating, ill with lung cancer.  I, however, was blind to the fact that he was getting worse.  I denied the fact to enter my mind, and convinced myself he was getting better.  Unable to leave the chair he was confined to, he asked me to consider staying home from grad. school to help him.  Truly convinced he was getting better, I decided to go back.  I told him I needed to finish school.  The last thing I remember him saying to me before I left for Syracuse August was, “Promise me you’ll come back if I need you.”

“Absolutely, Dad.  I promise”

The first night I was up at school, I got a call from my uncle.  My dad had been rushed to the hospital, as he was having trouble breathing.  I was on the first plane back to Long Island.  Unfortunately, by this time it was too late.  When I arrived at the hospital the next morning I was told he wouldn’t last another 24 hours.  Sure enough, 16 hours later I held his hand as he passed.

Again, I know there’s nothing I could have done to help him had I been there.  But, I’ll never be able to forgive myself for leaving him in the first place.

Now, fast forward to 2011.  I donate blood for the first time in my life, and 2 weeks later I receive an email saying, “You’re blood was used at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.”  In New York, the amount of people who donate is one of the lowest in the country.  In certain months NYC needs to have blood shipped from other states.  Since blood is so hard to come by here in NYC, it’s pretty much a certainty that blood donated here is used to save a person’s life.

When I found out I was O+ blood type, it hit me pretty hard.  I donated once, and saved a life.  I could have/should have been doing this my whole life.  A wave of guilt washed over me, and I realized it was something I wasn’t going to be able to live with.  For me to not give blood, after all that I’ve seen and been through is selfish, and immoral.  I found out that 60% of the blood donated helps people effected with cancer.  Once I heard that, I knew what I had to do.

To make up for all the time I could have been giving blood, I’m organizing this drive.  In many ways, it will help me deal with the demons I carry around from the death of my parents.  And in even more ways, I can thank them for all they’ve done for me.  But most importantly, it’s going to give someone else out there a second chance at life.  A second chance my parents couldn’t have.  

I know the NY Tech community is filled with great people.  I meet more of them everyday.  I’m confident we’ll have a fantastic turn out, but I’m asking the people who read this to spread the word.  Tweet the link out, post it on Facebook, blog about why you’re donating, get people to sign up by giving their email - the more people who donate, the more lives we save.  It’s plain in simple. 

If you’re from NYC or the surrounding area, or you’re going to be in town, sign up for the NYC Tech Blood Drive behind held on Saturday, Sept 24 from 11am - 5pm.  Every donation saves at least one life in NYC.  The Tech community here is already effecting the lives of millions of people, lets try to effect just a few more.