Bone Marrow Drive for 'Cherished' Nutley Resident Saturday

Director of township special needs program needs donors for Leukemia treatment.

Anne Rotonda, with her dog RJ.
Anne Rotonda, with her dog RJ.

Anne Rotonda has been helping the Nutley community for over 30 years. This weekend, she needs the community’s help.

Rotonda, the program manager for the Nutley's Special Young Adults Organization, was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia last year. This weekend, Nutley has organized a bone marrow drive for Rotonda in hopes of finding a donor match for her treatment.

For 35 years, Rotonda has directed programs for Nutley’s Special Young Adults Organization. Inspired by news stories about deplorable conditions at New York’s Willowbrook School, Rotonda pursued a degree in Special Education and drew on her experience volunteering at Holy Name Church to head the local program.

“The people there are like her kids,” her brother, Jim Rotonda, said. “She’s very protective of them.”

Rotonda’s illness has kept her away from the young adults she has dedicated her life to working with.

“She’s always been the caregiver,” Jim Rotonda said. “She’s always been the one giving the care.”

Her steadfast care and compassion has garnered the community’s recognition and support. Rotonda has won the Mattia community service award and was named Nutley’s Italian American woman of the year. Officials were quick to praise her.  

“Anne is one of our most cherished citizens,” Nutley Commissioner Joe Scarpelli said. “Her unselfish commitment to the SYA (Special Young Adults) over the last 35 years is commendable “It is our turn to come together and find a bone marrow match for someone who has given so much time, effort, and love to our community.”

Nutley Commissioner Steve Rogers said her commitment is an inspiration.

“She is one solitary soul who has committed her life to so many that she has become a role model of the American Spirit,” Rogers said. “There is no doubt in my mind that she holds a special place in the heart of God.”

Her brother said Rotonda’s October 18 Leukemia diagnoses came as a surprise.

“She was feeling wonderful,” Jim Rotonda said. “She had no idea she had anything. She went in for blood work.”

Jim was set to be the donor, but blood tests results late in the process prevented him from taking part. He said the treatment weakens the recipient’s immune system and doctors need to take special car to avoid complications. 

Jim Rotonda said the Saturday bone marrow drive would not be invasive for prospective donors.

“When they go to the bone marrow thing on Saturday, It’s a DNA test,” he said. “They swab the inside of the mouth with a q-tip.

If a prospective donor isn’t a match for Rotonda, their information will go into national database for possible use in the future.

Jim Rotonda said he hopes they’ll find a match on Saturday and that his sister’s outlook was positive.

“She’s been in remission from day one,” Jim Rotonda said. “That’s good, because you have to be in remission for the bone marrow.”

The Bone Marrow Drive will be held on Saturday, January 25th from 10am to 4pm at the Department of Public Affairs, 149 Chestnut Street, Nutley. Sign up for convenient time slots (10-12pm; 12-2pm; or 2-4pm).

Contact either Meredith Blank at mblank@nutleynj.org or Annmarie Nicolette at anicolette@nutleynj.org to register. Remember to specify the time slot that you are interested in – 10-12pm; 12-2pm; or 2-4pm. Walk-ins are welcome. If you have any questions regarding the drive, please contact the Department of Public Affairs at 973-284-4976.

If you are unable to attend the day of the drive but would still like to participate, there is also the option for an Online Drive. Arrangements can be made for you to swab your cheek cells at home for a fee. Visit http://join.marrow.org/Anne to register and request a kit.

For additional information go to BeTheMatch.org.




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