The bride-to-be, Elana Goldberg, may have said it best, in explaining the first scheduled event kicking off her weekend wedding with Seth Schrank.
“It runs in our blood,” she said.
The bride and groom, who live in Chicago, both are regular blood donors. So are both sets of parents. The groom organized a blood drive for his Eagle Scout project. And the bride’s grandmother was a Roswell Park Cancer Institute patient.
So late Friday morning, two days before the Goldberg-Schrank wedding, the bride and groom led a group of about six people who donated whole blood at the Roswell Park Blood Donor Center.
“There’s so much going on and so much joy and excitement,” Goldberg said. “So this is a time to sit back and reflect, to give of ourselves.”
“A lot of the wedding will certainly focus on us,” Schrank added. “This is an opportunity to give back and recognize our place in the greater world, that people need help. Not only can we come together to celebrate, but we can do something good as a community.”
Both the bride and groom are Jewish, and they clearly relished the idea of starting their wedding weekend with a mitzvah, literally a commandment, but more commonly defined as a good deed.
“The fact that we are starting a life together and hoping to create, maintain and prolong life here at Roswell is definitely powerful,” Goldberg said.
Neither Schrank nor Goldberg grew up in Buffalo, although she called this her “ancestral home.” Her parents, Rob and Shira Goldberg, both grew up here, and they moved back to Williamsville seven years ago, to care for his ailing mother.
With so many of the guests from out of town, this became sort of a destination wedding, with a huge Buffalo theme: the rehearsal dinner at the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society, goodie bags containing Cheerios and “Buffalo wing” nuts and place cards including a recipe for Buffalo wings.
So it made sense to feature Roswell Park, another community treasure.
Friday’s event turned the Blood Donor Center into a bit of a media campground, but no one at Roswell Park was complaining. After all, the need is so great.
Roswell Park transfuses about 17,000 units of blood and platelets to its patients each year.
“We have an ongoing need for both products, but we often express the need for platelets, because they expire in five short days,” said Anita Humphreys, blood donor recruiter.
Both Roswell Park and cancer have special meaning for the Goldberg family.
Rob Goldberg’s father, Larry, whose real name was Edwin Lawrence, was deathly sick with lung cancer in 1985, when Rob Goldberg told him that Shira was pregnant.
Larry Goldberg no longer could speak, but he wrote on a chalkboard: “This will be my replacement.”
He died six days later, and the baby, Elana Lauren, was named after him.
Then in 2005, the Goldbergs moved back here, when Rob’s mother, Judy, was being treated for lung cancer at Roswell Park.
“She got extraordinary care and attention here,” Rob Goldberg said.
This past summer, the engaged couple drove here from Chicago to join her parents in the Ride for Roswell, all four obtaining large enough pledges to ride in the Extra Mile Club.
The details are a bit fuzzy about who came up with the idea for Friday’s donation, but it apparently happened some time last year, when the engaged couple went to donate blood with the Goldbergs.
That’s when someone suggested that it might be an amazing way to start off a wedding weekend, by donating blood together.
“I think it exceeded all our expectations,” Shira Goldberg said Friday, inside the Blood Donor Center. “We always have a good feeling coming in here. But to come in here with our daughter, our future son-in-law, her in-laws and some members of the bridal party, it just blows me away. It’s an indescribable feeling, a true bonding experience.”
She then referred to her daughter’s future in-laws, Edna and Michael Schrank, from the Chicago area.
“It just shows she’s marrying someone from a family with similar values,” she added.