In Memory of Francis Gritzmacher

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For all those late to the party
Some people might be wondering what a Franquet is, or what is Team Frank, or even about Friendsgiving.

Frank had an endearing quality that let him make and keep friends, many lifelong. He always enjoyed socializing with them. Going places, doing things as a group. Just hanging out together. At some point they came up with the idea of a group celebration near Thanksgiving. It was separate from family celebrations, so it was called Friendsgiving. I doubt they invented the term, I've heard other people use it more lately, but Frank's friends were the first people I heard using it. The culmination was the 2019 Friendsgiving where Frank was joined at Hospice by many of his friends and family. It was a special moment.

Back in 2013, when a transplant was first being discussed, it was a daunting undertaking. At the time, the doctors told him that he would need to live in close proximity to the hospital in New York City so that they could monitor him and he would be close by in case of problems. The expense of relocating and living in NYC after a transplant seemed like an insurmountable goal.

One of his friends heard of a group, called the Childrens Organ Transplant Association, COTA for short, that helped with things like that. They had a way of helping fund things like that. They required the patient's support group, a family or friends, to raise money for the anticipated expenses. The money was raised for COTA in Frank's name. COTA held the money and used it to reimburse expenses related to the patient's medical needs. It seemed too good to be true, but the group checked out and it made a lot of sense to have a well-organized charitable organization hold the money. They even sent a representative out to meet us and plan the undertaking.

So Team Frank (Technically, COTA for Team Frank.) was born. A group of his closest friends formed it. I was the only relative on it. We planned fundraisers, everything from yard sales, and beer blasts, coin boxes on store counters, and a booth at the Farmers Market. The big event that took the most planning and work was the Frankquet.

The Frankquet, which was Frank and Banquet concatenated, was a big party with food, music, and a big basket raffle. We planned it at the Cooperative Extension.

Then Frank received the call that changed his life and gave him his new lungs. Frank actually attended the Frankquet after his transplant. Despite some bad weather that cut attendance, the party was a success and raised a significant amount of money for COTA.

Through it all and for all the visits follow up visits to NYC, COTA delivered. We'd submit expenses and they would reimburse us. The doctors relented and allowed Frank to live in Lockport and commute to the clinic, which probably was less expensive than finding an apartment in NYC. I don't know if we spent all the money we raised, or if COTA dug into their reserves and covered his trips, but they lived up to the deal and are a great organization.

COTA is one of Frank's charities on his memorial page. He did discuss this with me, so it is his wish to support them and all the charities listed there.
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Posted on 18 Mar 2020 by Al Gritzmacher

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