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Unity Bands raising money to support COVID variant research

Posted at 4:53 PM, Dec 06, 2021

BALTIMORE (WMAR) — Nearly two years into the pandemic, we are still learning about COVID-19 and the variants. A new Anne Arundel County-based nonprofit is raising money to support researchers in Baltimore.

They are selling $3 Unity Bands, similar to Livestrong bracelets, with the goal of bringing people together to support the healthcare system during the pandemic.

“We’ll keep going and doing this until COVID is no longer a problem or our medical partners don’t need support anymore for whatever reason,” said John Schirrippa, the founder of Unity Bands.

He and his wife created the nonprofit last December, after Schirrippa had what he describes as a calling.

“It was nagging at me really, that I need to do more than what I was already doing,” said Schirrippa.

In less than a year, they have raised $12,000 which they have donated to hospital systems for COVID-19 response efforts and to the University of Maryland School of Medicine for research efforts.

“It’s so inspiring to have these donors who really make a difference because without them we couldn’t do that work that we do every day,” said Mary Pooton, the Associate Dean for Development at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Pooton said donations like theirs provide unrestricted support.

“So at the most critical times that we need to move forward research, the money is there available to move that forward,” said Pooton.

The donations have gone to research things like the long term effects of COVID, how the vaccines effect cancer patients, and most recently testing the vaccines with the new variant omicrom.

“We’re continuing to work and see about the efficacy of the vaccines and also see about how we need to change the vaccines maybe to be more effective with these emerging pathogens,” said Pooton.

Schirrippa wants to continue being part of that lifesaving research. Saturday, Unity Bands is celebrating one year with virtual Birthday Bash, including musical performances and prizes to raise money and build momentum.

“It’s heartwarming to see what we’ve accomplished in a short period of time,” said Schirrippa.

The fundraiser music lineup includes GRUNGEology (Maryland), Counterfeiter$ (New York), Darryl Hill Blues Band (MA) and Neil Dover (AL). View the performances on Facebook at facebook.com/unitybandsorg and Instagram instagram.com/unitybandsorg.