Teachers have personal connection to blood drive

Anamarie Martinez and Natalie Zgurich

Baldwin High School has hosted many blood drives over the past years, but this Saturday’s drive hits close to home for some Baldwin teachers.

At eight months old, Bella Smolko was diagnosed with Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis, a form of rare blood cancer, and last summer Walt Pisowicz was diagnosed with small-cell lung cancer. Pisowicz is world history teacher Katie Temme’s father; Smolko is biology teacher Stephanie Neal’s niece and Temme’s goddaughter.

Both Smolko and Pisowicz have had to undergo many blood transfusions during their treatments, which has inspired the National Honor Society and the Junior Class to hold a blood drive on Saturday to support them and replenish area blood supplies.

“It is amazing that Baldwin students are getting involved, and it means so much to me,” Temme said.

The blood drive will not only help these two families, but a lot of people across the region. Each blood donor helps three people in need of blood.

“Bella was losing blood because of her condition,” Neal said. “Bella would have a transfusion the one day and be a completely happy 2-year-old the next.”

Dance Moms stars Christy Hunt and her daughter Sarah Hunt have promoted the blood drive on social media. Sarah Hunt has started an organization called the Love Your Melon Foundation, and it benefits children who have lost their hair to cancer. The foundation makes hats for those kids.

The Hunts will be attending the blood drive on Saturday to give Smolko a hat.

“It is really close to my heart,” Neal said. “Teachers from all over the district are getting involved.”

The drive will be held at St. Albert-Holy Apostles Parish Hall on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome.

Baldwin last year organized a blood drive for Smolko.

“Last year over 100 people donated blood, and we are hoping for a good outcome this year,” Neal said.