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Blood drive held in memory of Las Vegas student after cancer death

Updated June 4, 2022 - 4:43 pm

Joseph Landolfi Jr. was going to open his own business. He was going to learn Spanish and eventually run for local elections to make a difference in his hometown of North Las Vegas.

Landolfi would have turned 20 on Saturday, but the Arbor View High School graduate and College of Southern Nevada sophomore died Feb. 2, just 16 days after he was diagnosed with leukemia.

His mother, Gloria Landolfi, and her twin sister, Alexandra Clayton, hosted a blood drive Saturday at Arbor View, hoping to help others who need transfusions.

“He would feel so much better after he would get a transfusion,” Gloria Landolfi said. “So, it was something we talked about doing when he found out he had cancer. He wanted to do blood drives and help other people.”

In the time Landolfi lived after being diagnosed, he made big plans that his mother and aunt are trying to fulfill. Saturday’s blood drive drew 75 people and raised $7,000 for the Leukemia &Lymphoma Society, the women said. They’re also trying to raise money for a scholarship in his name, and donate some money from his GoFundMe to other family members with cancer he wanted to help.

“We’ve tried to do everything that he wanted to do when he was alive,” Clayton said through tears. “Even in his sickest moments he wanted to help other people … Hopefully his memory can live on in a positive way and other people will be able to get the dreams that he didn’t get to get.”

Gloria Landolfi suspects her son may have been sick as early as September, but he brushed off the symptoms of stomach pain, back pain and weight loss as part of growing up. When he went to the Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center emergency room in late December, doctors told him he probably had COVID-19, mononucleosis or HIV, she said.

“I hope kids can communicate and be advocates for their own bodies and keep pushing,” Gloria Landolfi. “They just said right away he had COVID as soon as we went in there.”

On a table outside the blood drive, the family put out scrapbooks and art Joseph Landolfi did throughout his childhood. In one book, in which Landolfi wrote that he was 5 years old and planned to be a ghost for Halloween, he said he was most thankful for “famely.”

He was the oldest of five children.

Four medals from his time playing clarinet for Arbor View’s marching band also decorated the table.

Lynn Rivera, account representative for the American Red Cross, said Clayton reached out to her when Landolfi was diagnosed asking how to host a blood drive.

“I didn’t hear from her for a while, then I found out he died but they still wanted to do a blood drive and his mom, Gloria, wanted it on his birthday,” Rivera said.

Donators filled out a survey online beforehand, were checked by a phlebotomist for a healthy blood pressure and iron level and were typically done donating their pint Saturday within 15 minutes.

Tait Reidinger had never donated blood, but as a co-worker of Joseph Landolfi Sr., Reidinger wanted to show his support.

“Joe is such a good person, and I wanted to help him any way I could,” Reidinger said. “I’ve never donated before. I was a lot more nervous, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.”

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.

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