Driven to Give: The Story Behind Andrew’s Army


Every few months when the Donate Life Club hosts a blood drive, everyone sees the sign-up table during lunches and walks past the commotion in the auditorium. They see Andrew’s face on posters around the school. But do they really know the power of giving blood?

Mrs. Lori Gramza knows just how important the club’s efforts are for our community. It all started with her son, Andrew Gramza.

Andrew graduated from Alden High School in 2007. Throughout his high school years, Andrew played on the soccer team and was involved in the theater program.

“He really enjoyed life to the fullest,” Mrs. Gramza said. “And his biggest thing that he loved the most was to laugh, and to make everybody laugh.”

In 2010, while Andrew was driving up to college, he got into a tragic car accident. A few weeks after the accident, while Andrew was still in the hospital, one of his doctors suggested to the Gramza family that regardless of how it turned out for Andrew, they should host a blood drive in the future.

Sadly, Andrew passed away in November of 2010. But the idea that Andrew’s doctor had suggested lit a spark for the Gramza family. Since then, Andrew’s Army,  the non-profit organization that raises money for Connect Life in memory of Andrew, has held five blood drives per year. Since Covid-19 started, that number has only increased. At this time, more than 10,000 patients at local hospitals have received blood from their blood drives.

The next blood drive at Alden High School will be on Thursday, March 24 from 7:30am- 2:00pm. Maybe now, instead of walking by the table outside the cafeteria, you’ll sign up to donate blood and save a life.

“If you can sit in a chair, and just put your arm out, and they can take something out of you that only takes a couple minutes of your time, and what they took could possibly save three lives?” Mrs. Gramza said. “To me, I don’t know why you wouldn’t do it. It’s a win-win situation.”