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National Restaurant Association - Will you be the match, Little Greek chief asks?

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Will you be the match, Little Greek chief asks?

Are you ready to Be the Match? The Little Greek’s Nick Vojnovic thinks so.

The 57-year-old Vojnovic, president of franchising for Little Greek Fresh Grill, is asking volunteers to join the Be the Match’s bone marrow registry drive. The goal: help save thousands of lives.

About 15 years ago, Vojnovic signed up to be a bone marrow donor for a boy with Leukemia. One swab of the inside of his cheek, and he was accepted into the program. Five years later, he got a call to be a donor.

But after further testing, he learned he had a blood disorder. Doctors told him to “watch and wait” and monitor the situation.

Fast forward to 2015, and his condition had worsened. Vojnovic had myelofibrosis, a life-threatening condition that required him to have his own stem cell transplant.

“That’s the only real cure for this disease,” he said. “That’s when we ended up reaching out to the Be the Match people ourselves.”

As luck would have it, there is a match for Vojnovic. If all goes well, he will enter the hospital Nov. 7 for initial treatment and receive his transplant Nov. 13. But much will depend on whether the potential donor is healthy and able to donate.

“This all got me thinking … about what I could do to help others,” he said. I wanted to spread the word about Be the Match and get people into the database. Our goal right now is to get 5,000 people to sign up.”

The restaurateur said he’s appealing to members of the industry ages 18 to 44 to become donors.

Vojnovic faces a tough recovery, but he’s optimistic about his future. He’s happy that industry friends, like Firehouse Subs CEO Don Fox and his former colleagues at Beef O’Brady’s have stepped up to spread the word about Be the Match. So far, more than 500 people have joined the registry. He hopes others will sign on, too.

“Registering is one of the easiest, no-cost ways to save someone’s life,” Vojnovic said.

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