Harley Owners Group continues 15-year memorial blood drive for member who died in 1997
April 5, 2012 at midnight
Updated April 6, 2012 at 11:07 p.m.
The name Tony Borowicz jumps off the pages of a packed scrapbook at Victoria Harley-Davidson.
The name is one known well at the shop - he's that avid motorcyclist whose life was cut short at age 48 because of kidney failure in 1997.
But who was Tony Borowicz? These days, many at the shop don't know, but it is what Harley-Davidson riders have done for 15 years to keep his memory alive for others that makes his name shine with vivacity.
The gift of life
"I'd be surprised if anyone here now knew him," said Frank Ardoin, co-chairman of the Tony Borowicz Memorial Blood Drive and a member of the Five Points Harley Owners Group.
The blood drive, which will enter its 15th year on April 14, is responsible for collecting 5,930 units of blood in the last 14 years.
Ardoin wishes he could have met Borowicz, a fellow HOG member, but he only knows Borowicz through pictures; particularly the one on the cover of a red scrapbook.
The photo is of Borowicz, a lanky man with deep-set eyes and a blond-speckled-with-gray handle-bar mustache.
Ardoin, of Victoria, was chairman of the blood drive in 2008, 2009, 2010 and co-chair last year and this year.
Ardoin has been riding on and off for about 40 years and became a HOG member sometime after Borowicz's death.
At least five South Texas Blood and Tissue buses will be at the Harley-Davidson for the blood drive. Planning blood drives is no easy task, Ardoin said.
Sponsors, water, flyers, parking and food are just a few details a chairman or co-chairman has to figure out.
Ardoin became involved after learning how much the HOG members give back to the community.
"This is much more than just a bunch of guys who get out and ride motorcycles," he said.
Monica Mendez, a spokeswoman with the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center in San Antonio, said the Borowicz blood drive is one of the more well known events, not only in the Crossroads, but also in Texas.
To have a memorial blood drive like this is also a rarity, she said.
"Usually, you have a blood drive in honor of someone going through some kind of need for blood or maybe a scheduled surgery," she said. "It's good that people have kept the memory alive through donations."
Deacon Steve Borowicz, with Holy Family Catholic Church, still remembers his late brother's lighthearted attitude.
Borowicz had developed glomerulonephritis, a disease that had caused kidney failure that eventually led to several blood transfusions, two kidney transplants and other surgeries.
Steve Borowicz prefers to remember his brother as the fun-loving guy, the man 16 months younger than him who many called his twin.
"He was a class clown," he said. "He was always doing something."
Borowicz had been on dialysis for 21 years, and took up riding a blue Harley Sportster that Steve Borowicz had sold him.
Riding was the one thing Borowicz felt liberated doing.
"He couldn't stay away from it," Borowicz's brother said. "The riders took good care of him, too."
Steve Borowicz and other family members try to make the blood drive each year, and he is very proud of what Harley-Davidson owners Tim and Dawn Euton and the HOG members have continued doing in memory of his brother.
Ardoin says it's really nothing, they're just doing what is right.
"That's the funny thing about riding motorcycles," Ardoin said. "It's a common bond."