Bobby and Kelly Daquara, longtime owners of the Greenhouse Café, will host their 64th blood drive on Nov. 2 as the 10-year anniversary of their daughter’s passing approaches.
The couple’s daughter, Haley, was born with a rare disorder called Hurler Syndrome. People with Hurler Syndrome usually don’t have enough of a specific kind of enzyme in their blood to break down the fats and sugars they need to thrive — and many, like Haley, battle myriad health issues as a result. According to her father, the young girl underwent a bone marrow transplant at one year old and open heart surgery when she was about 10 – both operations required multiple blood transplants.
The blood drive started small — with less than 50 donors — but their consistency throughout the years has made the event grow, the Daquaras said.
“We started doing them before she passed away because she and we knew the importance of blood products,” Bobby said. “When we first used to have blood drives, you’d have one bus and we’d get like 25 people to come out. Now we do two, sometimes three, buses and we’ll have 110 people come out.”
Greenhouse was unable to collect donations during the pandemic since local blood centers weren’t running their buses, but, this year alone the cafe has held six drives, he added.
Throughout the years, the family has collected over 3,300 pints of blood — which could help as many as 10,000 people. New York City has dealt with consistent blood shortages over the past few years, and the New York Blood Center in August declared a “blood emergency” as supplies dipped dangerously low.
“The community rallies. A lot of [our] friends come out to donate in her memory. It’s a nice cause,” he said.
Organizers will also be selling raffle tickets as part of their fundraiser at their upcoming drive. First place prize is a $200 Ticketmaster certificate and the second place winner will receive a gift card from Greenhouse Cafe for a dinner for two. All proceeds will go to Maimonides Medical pediatric ward in an effort to support the children receiving medical care in a local hospital.
Hayley is now remembered not for her illness but for her strength, love and deep connection to the neighborhood, Bobby said.
“Being my daughter, she was a big part of the restaurant,” her father said. “She lived to the fullest, she made every day fun. It was a pleasure to be her father.”
Greenhouse Cafe’s 64th blood drive will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 2, from 10 a.m.-7:45 p.m. at Greenhouse Café, 7717 Third Ave. between 77th and 78th streets in Bay Ridge. Register to donate online.