By Alana Mauger
This summer, the Peter Powerhouse Foundation reached an extraordinary milestone – more than 100 American Red Cross blood drives hosted and over 10,000 blood donations collected. Driven by its mission to improve the lives of children fighting cancer, the Foundation started hosting blood drives in 2015.
Peter Zucca and his parents Dawn and Dennis are uniquely qualified to operate a foundation that supports kids and families dealing with childhood cancer. Peter was only 10 months old when he was first diagnosed with cancer. After 8 months of surgeries and treatments, he was given a 24% chance of survival. Years of therapies and more than a dozen surgeries later, Peter’s right leg was amputated above the knee because of a Desmoid Tumor. He was 10 years old.
Peter channeled his fighting spirit and determination into helping address the costs of care, research and treatment needs of other children with cancer. He wanted to help kids like him. The Peter Powerhouse Foundation was born. Two years later the foundation started hosting blood drives – grateful that the 51 units of blood had been available for young Peter when he needed it.
“Peter launched one of the most successful Red Cross blood drive campaigns across the country,” said Rosanne Marks, who recently retired after 40 years as a Red Cross Donor Services account manager. “And now, 7 years later, he marks the unbelievable milestone of sponsoring over 100 blood drives and collecting 10,000 blood donations, which helped up to 30,000 cancer patients, premature babies, accident victims and others with life-threatening illness or trauma.”
In March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic essentially shut down blood collection for almost a week, Donor Services managers scrambled to find places willing to host blood drives. The Peter Powerhouse Foundation stepped up once again.
“Just when most other sponsors were cancelling their blood drives, Peter and his mom Dawn volunteered to become an emergency blood drive site. They held blood drives every day for two weeks,” shared Rosanne. “Just in the year 2020, they hosted dozens of blood drives and collected 4,000 blood donations.”
The drives – held regularly at Towamencin Mennonite Church in Kulpsville – play a major role in supplying blood to patients in the Penn Jersey region. For his efforts, Peter has received numerous Red Cross scholarships through the Leaders Save Lives program and sits on the Red Cross Delaware Valley Chapter Board of Directors, in addition to earning many community accolades.
According to Rosanne, meeting Peter, Dawn and Dennis was a life-changing experience.
“During my 40-year career with the Red Cross, the Zucca family has demonstrated the highest level of commitment, organization and positive influence in their blood drive program. They have impacted thousands of lives and have become the role model for all blood drive sponsors in the Penn-Jersey region and the national American Red Cross,” she said. “They’ve served our community in a way that has set the standard of excellence. Peter is truly a superstar.”
Today, that “superstar” is a 19-year-old sophomore studying divinity at Lipscomb University. During a July blood drive while Peter was home on summer break, the Red Cross presented the Peter Powerhouse Foundation with a plaque and cake to mark the tremendous milestone of 10,000 donations.