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Finding a Match -- Annual Kenny C. blood and bone marrow drive Saturday

July 21, 2017
Melissa Schneider - Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

The annual Kenny Conidaris Blood and Bone Marrow Drive will be taking place at the Lani Kai Island Resort, 1400 Estero Blvd., Saturday, July 22, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lead coordinator and Kenny's mom, Kathy Conidaris, is eager on how everything's coming along. "Everything's going great!" she said. "We have more sponsors and community businesses helping out and we're all coming together for a great cause."

As for a record turnout, Kathy says, "I don't think we will ever break our very first year of 385 donors, but every year is always successful and fun!" she said. "We usually hover around 100 successful blood donations and marrow registrants yearly."

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. Since first finding out this condition, Kenny's family from near and far, friends and hundreds of locals, have been tested to see if they were a match for a bone marrow transplant, but still, no luck.

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Kaitlin, Kathy, Kenny, Krystal and Kasey. Photo courtesy KATHY CONIDARIS

Three Lee Memorial Blood Centers blood busses will be on the premises that day for those who would like to make a donation to the blood bank; you must be 18 and up to donate.

Medical staff will also be stationed at the Key West bar area of the resort, by the pool, taking very simple swabs inside your mouth, for those who would like to join the bone marrow donation registry.

"All donors that day will get a light snacks and lunch that afternoon, a commemorative event T-shirt, and free ice cream from Kelly's Treats at the Lani Kai," Kathy said. Even if you've contributed in the past, come by and have fun during this special benefit.

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"We'll have so much fun for families and kids, too!" Kathy said. "In addition to all that the hotel already features, like the great view, four bars, parasailing, jet-skiing, etc., this year we also have a dunking booth, compliments of Creative Events/Taylor Rental, a playground on property and lots of sand for sand castle building. We also have Ray the Trapper coming down. With all the alligator incidents happening he will be great to have him for awareness and what to do if you see an alligator running around. He educates students and adults on alligators, in addition to other wildlife in our area. He will have a gator or two with him."

In addition to the Lani Kai's regular live music on the beach, a live DJ will be on-site during the benefit, announcing prizes for giveaways, playing music and promoting the event.

Kathy lets us know how Kenny has been doing, still dealing with regular doctor's visits and procedures. "Kenny's doing great!" she said. "He still does his bi-weekly chemo treatment (and will for the rest of his life). He is currently working at a hospital in North Carolina with the anesthesia department in the operating room. Kenny's no stranger when it comes to blood; needless to say, it doesn't bother him at all, so he really enjoys his job. But the biggest news is that Kenny and his girlfriend, Mary Hillard, are due a baby any time now. He's thrilled to become a daddy, which is truly a miracle. We never thought he'd be able to have children because of all the chemo he takes in regularly, but God has proven us wrong. He is hoping that this baby will be his perfect match. Soon we will know!"

Even if you've already joined the blood marrow registry, and would rather not donate blood, "we still encourage everyone to stop by and visit. Bring a friend who possibly hasn't done it before. Just talking about it spreads awareness and educates why people need to donate blood to save others in need," Kathy said. "We have been told on a few occasions of people getting called and donating, so we know our event is saving lives. My daughter, Kasey, who entered into the registry at last year's event, got called as a bone marrow match at Christmas time. She was thrilled to have the chance to donate, but unfortunately the patient who needed the transplant passed before everything was finalized. So we do know this is working. I know there are a lot good stories out there that we haven't heard yet and I'd like to hear them, and thank those donors personally for stepping up to the plate for such a wonderful thing.

Visit for more information or call 1-800- MARROW-2 (1-800-627-7692).



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