St. Mary Parish in Franklin's Feast of St. Rocco -- named for the patron saint of the sick -- will give people a chance to help someone with a grave illness through the parish's first annual bone marrow drive. Pilot photo/courtesy St. Mary Parish
FRANKLIN -- Thanks to the efforts of young-adult parishioners at St. Mary Parish in Franklin, parishioners will not only be able to enjoy themselves at the parish's annual St. Rocco Festival, they may also be able to help cure someone of a life-threatening disease, as well.
This year, along with the food and games, the parish will provide the opportunity for people to register as potential bone marrow donors.
The effort has its roots in 2010, after college-age parishioner Kristin Graci lost her battle with leukemia. Her brother, Justin Graci, was determined to fight back against the disease that took his sister from this world at a young age.
Friends at his college, UMass Amherst, rallied to support him in his grief, but also in running bone marrow drives in association with the national organization Delete Blood Cancer.
At an on-campus event called "Kristin's Celebration of Life" Justin Graci experienced his first bone marrow drive, and the school gained national recognition for their contribution.
"We have gone on to find 27 life-saving matches from our efforts," he told St. Mary's parish newsletter, The Weave.
This year, he and friends from Franklin and the parish plan to staff a booth at the St. Rocco's Festival, August 8 through 10, to promote the potential of saving a life through the Bone Marrow Registry.