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Port Jefferson drive aims to find bone marrow donors

A bone marrow drive had been held in

A bone marrow drive had been held in hopes of finding a match for Shannon Tavarez, who played "Nala" in "The Lion King" on Broadway. Photo Credit: Handout

A Port Jefferson bone marrow drive to help a young Broadway star and a woman who suffer from leukemia added more than 125 people to the national bone marrow registry yesterday. The drive was aimed at finding a match for "The Lion King" performer Shannon Tavarez and Ridge mother Penny Lindenberg.

Nicole Parisi, an intern at the bone-marrow registry DKMS Americas, organized the drive at the Infant Jesus Catholic Church to find a match for those waiting for lifesaving bone marrow transplants. She said people traveled from as far away as Queens and Nassau County to get swabbed.

"It was really nice," Parisi said. "A lot of people came, caring and willing to help. Hopefully we'll find a match for Shannon or Penny or the thousands of other people in need of a bone-marrow transplant."

Shannon played the character Nala in the Broadway performance of "The Lion King" until April, when she became ill, her mother, Odiney Brown, told Newsday Saturday. Shannon will return to Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park Monday to resume chemotherapy.

Brown calls her daughter's voice a gift: "It gives you goose bumps to hear her. The first time I heard her, she just blew me away."

Lindenberg and her family attended the drive, Parisi said, adding, "She was thanking people for showing up." Lindenberg is a mother of two and the leader of Girl Scout Troop 1109 until her illness forced her to step aside.

For more information about becoming a bone marrow donor, go to getswabbed.org.

With Delthia Ricks

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