Kenny C Blood and Bone Marrow Drive set for July 28
The Kenny C Blood and Bone Marrow Drive, now in its 16th year, has grown from a personal hope to a community mission.
“It started as a way of trying to find a bone-marrow match for Kenny Conidaris, who was 11 years old at the time when he and his family found out he had severe aplastic anemia, a rare and life-threatening blood disease that requires regular blood work and chemo infusions,” said Melissa Schneider, marketing director at Lani Kai Island Resort. “But since then, with such an amazing turnout of donors year after year, we wanted to continue hosting this event to not only help Kenny find a bone marrow match, but help the thousands of others who need one, as well as help supply local blood banks with the plasma they need to help save lives of so many.”
The drive is set for Saturday, July 28, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Lani Kai Island Resort at 1400 Estero Blvd. Even if you’ve taken part previously to see if you’re a potential match, you’re invited to come by and have lots of fun during this special benefit to also help raise the blood donor count in Lee County.
“Our event is always set up to be a fun gathering for the whole family,” Schneider said. “We’ll have all kinds of games, toys and prizes for the children, a dunk tank, live entertainment, picnic lunch for donors, alone with snacks and treats.This year’s theme is ‘Going Wild,’ with several local non-profit nature conservation groups on hand to share beautiful parts of the wild with event-goers, along with Trapper Ray who is returning with baby alligators and other fun creatures like the Calusa Nature Center’s de-skunked skunk and a python, all for our event-goers to safely pet and photograph with. And One Blood will be gathering the blood donations and taking swabs for the bone marrow registry,” Schneider said. “Often, people hear ‘bone marrow’ match and they think it’s a tough procedure, but it’s actually even easier than giving blood. All it requires is a swab of the inside of your mouth, and just like that, you’re registered to be a potential marrow donor.”
There is no registration necessary. Stop by on Saturday, but if you can’t make it, you can register online using the code “Lani Kai” and One Blood will mail out your swab kit at no cost to you.
Since he was a youngster, Kenny has battled severe aplastic anemia, a disease in which the bone marrow does not make enough blood cells for the body, and PNH, an acquired disease stemmed from cancer that destroys the red blood cells. Since first finding out these conditions, Kenny’s family from near and far, friends and now thousands of locals and visitors, have been tested to see if they were a match for a bone marrow transplant, but still, no luck.
Since 2006, this annual benefit has collected more than 1,500 pints of blood. With one pint saving up to three lives, that means 4,500 possible lives have been saved from these blood and bone marrow drives – and that’s not including lives saved from guests joining the national bone marrow registry, which is much harder to track.
Along with hoping to find a match for Kenny, your blood or bone marrow donor registration on July 28 has the chance to help so many other people around Southwest Florida – and beyond.
“Our event started as a way of trying to find a bone-marrow match for Kenny, but since then, with such an amazing turnout of donors year after year, we want to continue hosting this event to not only help Kenny find a match, but help the thousands of others who need one, as well as help supply local blood banks to help save the lives of so many,” said Kathy Conidaris, Kenny’s mom and lead coordinator of the annual event.
The Lani Kai’s blood and bone marrow drive is always set up to not only help gather donations for the community, but to make a festive family day of it.
“Fort Myers Beach is such a wonderful place to host an event like this because we are all about community here, Schneider said. “We are all about helping each other and doing what we can to lend support where it’s needed most. I love knowing that this event has the chance to help so many people, so many families and it’s an event that’s all about hope and helping one another.”
The event has a number of generous sponsors: J.J. Taylor, Publix, Broadway Palm, Key West Express, Twin Peaks, Duck Donuts, Breakout Room, Gator Lanes, Headpinz, Zoomers, Gull Wing, Budweiser/Suncoast Beverages, Capt Tony’s Fishing Charters, Dunkin Donuts, Jungle Golf, and Sanibel Harbor Resort.
“This will be a nice, fun time while helping so many people,” Kathy said. “Come out and show your support for the community – let’s go wild and help find a match!”
For more information, visit the event page on Facebook “Kenny Conidaris Blood & Bone Marrow Drive at the Lani Kai.”
To sign up for the national bone marrow registry, visit join.BeTheMatch.org/LaniKai.
Any group or business which would like to make a donation in the form of a raffle prize or gift can call Kathy at 239-851-0701.