POLAND, Ohio (WYTV) - Since the passing of his wife three years ago, Mahoning County Engineer Pat Ginnetti has made it his mission to raise money and awareness for bone marrow donors to help patients with cancer.
Thursday night, all his efforts came together as the first Hope Gala was held in honor of his wife, Missy Ginnetti, at the Lake Club in Poland.
The event was a partnership between Pat and an organization Missy was very passionate about, called Be the Match.
"They obviously gave her two additional years. Her donor is here, he gave her two additional years and the message I'm trying to get across to people is between Daniel and Be the Match, they gave us hope," Pat said.
Hope and more family time with a woman they loved and adored.
Three years ago we introduced you to Daniel Cox, Missy's bone marrow donor, and told you about the special bond they shared.
"Working with her, getting to know her, getting to know Pat, her kids and her family, I just felt like our families came together from there. We would text all the time and then we started working for Be the Match together and working on different projects," Cox said.
It's something Cox still holds near and dear to his heart.
"It felt amazing to be able to give back, I mean, theoretically I guess. I did something for Missy but I think what I got in return from her repays it like 100 fold," Cox said.
A lifesaving donation from a perfect stranger isn't something you hear about every day but it can happen with more awareness and people willing to register to become a donor.
The mission of the Be the Match organization is simple: to save lives.
"Last year we had about 16,278 people who came to us and asked for a transplant and unfortunately we couldn't match everyone," said Kristin Scott, of Be the Match.
"You know, if we can help one more person, that's one more person that may get an extra day or an extra couple of years like we got, to see your kids grow," Pat said.
Pat's goal for the Hope Gala was to get 300 people to attend and raise $100,000 for the Be the Match organization.
About 15 minutes into the night, he'd already exceeded one of those goals.
Visit Be the Match's website to learn more about the organization or how to become a donor.