I know far too many parents who’ve lost a child. It’s unimaginable. It’s heartbreaking. It’s just not the way things are supposed to go. Yet, it happens – far too often.
Paul and Marybeth Kupiec lost their son, Brandon in 2013.
Marybeth said something I’ve heard from many parents who’ve lost so much:
“Mary, a bereaved parent’s biggest fear is that their child will be forgotten, although Brandon is no longer with us, his friendship, kindness and legacy lives on through this event. Knowing he can still help others even after death gives us great peace.”
The Kupiec Family has made it their mission to keep Brandon’s memory alive. Each year they host a community blood drive along with UNYTS and The Shawnee Volunteer Fire Company. Donating blood was important to Brandon. Since the age of 16, he’d been an avid donor. His mom recalls that first time. “He brought home a permission slip from school to donate blood. How could I let my 16 year old son donate blood when I had never donated? We donated together for the first time and every 56 days thereafter, leading up to his untimely death. We had just donated together days prior. He is the reason I began donating and the reason I continue to. Brandon knew the importance of blood donation. There is no substitute for blood, it has to be donated by one to give to another!”
Brandon was a healthy 20-year-old who suddenly, tragically and unexpectedly died in his sleep. The medical examiner told the family it was natural causes – although no definitive cause beyond that.
Through their heart-crushing pain, the family does this incredible thing. They save lives. Marybeth told me all about her wonderful son, Brandon.
“Brandon was amazing, he touched so many with his charisma, charm and kind heartedness. He had a smile that would melt your heart. He was working in the maintenance department at a local nursing home at the time of his death, (he had a genuine passion for the older population) while attending night school to obtain his engineering license. His goals included high pressure boilers and welding. He loved welding, he was pretty creative.”
Brandon’s dad was his best friend and the two of them made quite a team when it came to fixing things – anything. He was always surrounded by friends and family, including his two older sisters – and was apparently the best uncle ever! He loved camping, fishing, hunting and anything winter-related. He was known for snow blowing or shoveling his entire street.
Marybeth says her son could and would turn anyone’s bad day into laughter. “A bit of a practical joker, you had to be on your toes around him, especially April Fool’s day, his favorite holiday. Rubber bands around the kitchen sink sprayer, saran wrap over the toilet bowl, fake suspension notices.. he somehow got the teachers to sign and go along with.”
Yes, he had lots of friends – but one four-legged bestie. “His faithful dog TANK, our black lab, Tank was Brandon’s partner in crime… Oh how I wish dogs could talk, Tank probably has some great stories to share. He was the NT Lacrosse team mascot, swimming partner at the Lake and a great “chic magnet” as Brandon would say. The girls loved Tank. Tank would often go to work with Brandon and visit with the residents of the nursing home.”
A manly man who loved welding and the great outdoors – but it turns out – he was also quite a momma’s boy. “He’d think nothing of spending a Sunday with me watching Lifetime movies.” Marybeth says, “Brandon loved General Hospital and wasn’t afraid to admit it. We baked together, he loved making meals of venison for us. We volunteered at our local hospital together, donated blood together even enjoyed line dancing with his mom. He promised he’d live at home until he was 27 – who could’ve known.”
This is why the Kupiecs host this blood drive – in memory of their son who loved life – who loved giving back and who will never – ever be forgotten. So please, if you can take some time on August 1st and give some blood – it would mean the world to those who miss Brandon terribly. It won’t take long, could save a life – and will make you feel great.
“With schools that host blood drives on break and many individuals enjoying vacation, summer presents a difficult time to collect donations. However the critical need for blood does not change. We need the support of our community to help save lives. We are asking the community to share in his memory by donating on his behalf. We have set a goal to collect 100 pints of blood in 6 hours. It can be done! Now know to be Niagara County’s Largest Blood Drive. To date we have collected 675 pints of blood.”
WHAT: Brandon R. Kupiec Memorial Blood Drive
WHEN: Thursday, August 1st from 1-7 pm.
WHERE: Shawnee Volunteer Fire Company, 3747 Shawnee Road, Sanborn, NY.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Free hot dogs and a sheet of raffle tickets to donors. There will be a large basket raffle and some amazing items being raffled off – including: a hand welded American Flag made by the Niagara Orleans 2018 B.O.C.E.S welding class, a fishing charter, Buffalo Bills memorabilia, and much much more…
Appointments for this event are recommended but not necessary. You can visit UnytsBloodDonor.org – Enter Sponsor Code 000376.