RYE, N.Y. -- Rye Recreation along with the Red Cross helped sponsor a blood drive in honor of former Town of Harrison Clerk and Board of Education Member Joseph "Joey" Acocella Jr. on Friday inside the Damiano Recreation center. Also present were officials from the organ donor registry "Donate Life."
Acocella, a lifelong Harrison resident, passed away at the age of 30 after failing to secure a needed kidney donation. The drive is just one in a series of drives organized by Acocella's family to help raise awareness about giving blood and donating organs. The campaign kicked off in Harrison earlier this week.
"Joey started the blood drive and started the organ donor registry himself," Laura Acocella, Joey's sister, said. "He knew how important it was and that the Red Cross was in desperate need of blood."
According to "Donate Life," only 18 percent of New Yorkers above the age of 18 are registered organ donors, which is the third lowest in the United States. The current waiting list for a kidney in New York is around seven or eight years.
"People are shutting their eyes to it, but it has to stop," Acocella said.
Acocella hopes that sharing Joey's story will improve the state's dire organ donor situation.
"My goal is to let everybody know and understand Joseph's story," Acocella said. "This is about a 30-year-old guy who needed a kidney couldn't get one. We tried everything, but our hands were tied."
On Joseph Acocella Jr.'s website there is a quote about perseverance that encourages people to "make the most noise" during times of strife. It's those words that inspire Laura and the rest of the Acocella family to spread Joey's story.
"We are voices for people who dont have voices, there are a lot of patients out there who dont know what to do, but this can change," Acocella said. "I'm going to make the most noise, if it's the last thing I do in my lifetime."
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