Throggs Neck residents and friends of longtime community member Joseph O’Grady will hold a blood drive in his honor at St. Benedict’s Church on Sunday, January 3.
O’Grady, a member of the Turner Club well-known in Throggs Neck, has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, synovial sarcoma. He has undergone treatment – including chemotherapy – since the fall of 2008. Synovial sarcoma usually occurs near the joints of the arms and legs but in O’Grady’s case has been found elsewhere, his lungs included.
While O’Grady and his family, which includes two children adopted from Haiti and one biological child, have turned down monetary support from the Throggs Neck Benevolent Association and neighbors, they jumped at a chance to have his name attached to a blood drive because O’Grady is the beneficiary of blood transfusions.
“I think it’s great to get everyone in the neighborhood involved in the blood drive,” O’Grady said. “I feel honored to have my name attached to it and to be a part of the drive. I think it is a good thing for all involved.”
O’Grady and his wife Shannon are both teachers. He teaches fifth and sixth grade reading and social studies at St. Martin of Tours School at 695 E. 182nd Street. She teaches fourth grade at P.S. 304 at 2750 Lafayette Avenue. In addition, O’Grady is an athletic coach at Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains. Joseph and Shannon are parents to two-year-old John, two-year-old Thomas and nine-year-old Ivanmene.
A blood drive held at Stepinac on Sunday, December 13 collected 134 pints of blood. The January 3 drive will take place during the St. Benedict’s Sunday Mass schedule, from roughly from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Apart from blood donations, the O’Gradys are also accepting food and babysitting help.
“Joseph is a very gracious person and that’s the reason he’s not taking any [money],” Shannon said. “Joe doesn’t like to be the center of attention, [though] it’s great to know that our community is behind us.”
The staff at P.S. 304 has been very supportive, Shannon added. Her husband, who is also a stand-up comic, is getting through his cancer treatments – often five times a week at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan – with a sense of humor.
“There’s nothing that he doesn’t joke about, so we can get through it,” Shannon said.
Reach reporter Patrick Rocchio at 718 742-3393 or firstname.lastname@example.org