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Harrison's Acocella To Be Honored By Astorino

HARRISON, N.Y. – Former Harrison Town Clerk and 2011 Citizen of the Year Joseph “Joey” Acocella will be honored by Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino at a Thursday afternoon press conference.

Acocella, born with Lumbar Sacral Agenesis, died Aug. 8, 2011 at 30 years old due to medical complications while awaiting a kidney transplant.

“We all lost a dear friend and dedicated public servant when Joseph Acocella passed away,” said Astorino in the press release from his office. “He was truly an inspiration to all who were lucky enough to know him personally, as I did. Despite the many challenges in his life, he always remained positive and found a way to persevere. He is missed, but his spirit and determination live on.”

Acocella, who had both of his legs amputated when he was 3 years old as a result of Lumbar Sacral Agenesis, became the youngest town clerk in state history when he was elected in 2007. He was running for re-election when he died. His family has become strong advocates for organ donation.

“Joseph’s death was a tragedy not only for his family, but for the entire community," said his sister, Laura Acocella-McCorry. “We need to raise the profile of organ donation in Westchester, and convey urgency. Together we can make a difference.”

His family has worked with the New York Organ Donor Network "to help raise awareness on the gap between the number of organs needed and the number donated in New York," the press release said.

While the national average for organ donation enrollment is 43 percent, New York is at 19 percent, which is the third-worst nationwide, the press release said.

“A person dies every 15 hours waiting for an organ transplant in New York,” said Acocella-McCorry in the press release. “But it doesn't have to be this way. The percentage of New Yorkers registered to be organ donors is the third worst nationwide. Yet the vast majority of New Yorkers think organ donation is a good thing. That’s why our family has embarked on this campaign to bring change.”

Alongside Astorino will be Acocella’s family, Harrison Mayor/Supervisor Ron Belmont and representatives from the New York Organ Donor Network, including a 10-year-old transplant recipient from Chappaqua.  The event will be held at Harrison Town Hall at 2 p.m. on Thursday.

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