By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Mathiew Johnson, a school custodian, always joined his mother June Johnson when she went to donate blood at various blood drives in their community of Bay Ridge over the years.
So when June Johnson was looking for a way to pay tribute to Mathiew, who died of a sudden heart attack last year while on the job, she thought a blood drive would be the perfect vehicle.
“We were always going to blood drives. Mathiew felt very strongly that if you could help someone, you should,” June Johnson, a retired school secretary, told the Brooklyn Eagle. “I thought holding a blood drive in his name would be the best way for people to remember him.”
Johnson and her husband Doug have organized a blood drive in memory of their son Mathiew. The blood drive will take place on Wednesday, March 19, at PS 102, 211 72nd St., from 3-7:30 p.m.
PS 102 Principal Cornelia Sichenze “has graciously agreed to let us use the school to have the blood drive,” Johnson said. Mathiew Johnson worked at PS 102.
“It’s so important to give blood. You could be saving someone’s life,” June Johnson said.
Mathiew Johnson, who was single, was in his early 40s when he died. His death came as a complete shock to his family and friends. He was the youngest of June and Doug Johnson’s three children and was close to his brother Doug and sister Christine, his mother said.
June Johnson is a member of Community Board 10 and is active in a number of organizations, including the Garden Club of Bay Ridge, the Bay Ridge Community Council and the American Cancer Society.
She instilled in her son a love of community activism. Together, mother and son assisted at fundraisers for different charities and were regular participants in the Relay for Life, the outdoor fundraiser the American Cancer Society sponsors each year. The relay takes place each year at the Fort Hamilton High School Athletic Field on Shore Road in Bay Ridge.
Mathiew Johnson was someone who enjoyed life and made every moment count, according to his mother. He was an avid fisherman and could often be found out on the ocean on the boat he and his father co-owned, she said. At his funeral, a poem called “Fisherman’s Prayer” was read.
The March 19 blood drive, which is being run under the auspices of the New York Blood Center, will have raffles along with the coffee, tea, and sweets usually offered to people who donate blood. ‘We really want a lot of people to come out that day. We figured that if we had raffles with great prizes and really nice snacks, more than just the cookies and juice you get at most blood drives, it would bring more people out,” Johnson said.
According to the New York Blood Center’s website, donations are always needed in New York City. Any company, community organization, place of worship, or individual can host a blood drive. Blood donors receive free mini-medical exams at donations sites. The exams include information about the donor’s temperature, blood pressure and hematocrit level, a measurement of the number of red blood cells.
In order to be eligible to donate blood, an individual donor must be at least 16 years of age, weigh a minimum of 110 pounds, and be in good health. People age 76 or over can donate blood if they have a doctor's note.
For more information, visit nybloodcenter.org.