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Like many grown children, the Knittel’s wrestle each year with the question of what to give dad on Father’s Day. What can you give the man who gives so much? In 2009, William Knittel’s eight living children took a novel approach to Father’s Day and wrote a tribute to him, each expressing how his experience as a blood donor inspired them to contribute to their community. The memories and stories the children share portray a family dedicated to helping others. William and Dolores Knittel proudly raised nine children in Syracuse, he working as a postal carrier, she a registered nurse. Leading by example, they taught their children the importance of community service. When William started to donate blood in 1961, it was because his father was hospitalized. He continued to donate blood until he became ineligible in 1968. But those years inspired his children, and now grandchildren to give the gift of life. Here are some of their stories: Ed Knittel, 57, Camp Hill, PA “I remember going with Dad when he donated blood at St. Margaret’s and I always thought that it was a great way to give without any problem…I’ve been doing it since I was 17 or 18, so it’s been 40 years!” David Knittel, 56, Syracuse, NY “…I was and still am amazed that Dad would let anyone holding a needle get near him, to say nothing of actually sticking it in him. For a man who got light-headed from just walking into a hospital, how did he summon the courage…I guess that is one simple statement that speaks volumes about the kind of man he is: someone brave enough to face his own fears in order to give something precious and needed by someone else.” Paul Knittel, 54, Liverpool, NY “Jess [Paul’s daughter] has had two blood transfusions in the past five weeks, so we greatly appreciate those who donate.” Jean Marie Knittel, 53, Cazenovia, NY “I know that our parents gave blood as we where children. I did not donate blood until the late ‘80s, at least. At that time I believe that my conscious nagged me enough to finally donate blood. I donate as often as possible and strive for six times a year…I always walk away feeling very good for having donated blood and I know this influence came from our parents to help others.” Anne Knittel, 47, Syracuse, NY “I remember the pins Dad had for giving blood that would be on his mailman uniform. I first gave in high school, and managed to faint, cam close to fainting again the next few times, and gave it up until September 11, 2001. On that day, I just wanted to either climb a mountain and pray for peace or give blood…I give about three or four times a year.” John Knittel, 45, North Syracuse, NY “I got started donating blood in college…After Phillip was born [prematurely] and needed so many transfusions, I started doing it on a regular basis. I would do direct donations to the neonatal unit…I do double reds now…I think I am somewhere in the area of 50 units…As for Dad giving blood, I remember the gallon pins he wore on his postal hat when we were little.” The family’s blood donations span nearly half a century, and over the years their gift of life has given meaning to them and joy to others.
—The Knittels - A Family Affair
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