Saving Lives

Ethan D’Onofrio has what it takes to be an Eagle Scout

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Ethan D’Onofrio strives to make a great impact on many people.

The Boulder Creek High School senior is starting his campaign with his Eagle Scout program: a bone marrow registration drive from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, November 2, at the Anthem LDS Church, 2503 W. Anthem Way.

“There’s a critical shortage of bone marrow donors,” D’Onofrio says. “The only standard of care is a transplant. I’m trying to build up the bone marrow donor registry. Ever since I started scouting, I wanted to make a great impact on many people. For my Eagle Scout program, I thought I would build something that saves lives.”

The Be the Match-sponsored event requires registration at join.bethematch.org/Eagle04. It also features cake, ice cream and raffle prizes. Those 18 to 44 who wish to join the bone marrow registry will undergo a 1-minute swab of their cheek.

D’Onofrio’s event will take place during a large blood drive, so he’s hoping participants will partake in his, too.

“I hope people will donate blood and notice our thing going on as well and be prompted to participate,” he says. “Registering is not a big deal.”

D’Onofrio has made an impact on many people he has met, including Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, whom he met through a mutual friend.

“I met Steven Tyler in London,” he says. “Back in 2016, I was invited to Steven Tyler’s UN Humanitarian Award ceremony in New York City for his efforts with Janie’s Fund. I was his VIP guest.”

But it was D’Onofrio’s talents that garnered that invitation.

“I’m a very big music fan and I’m a very big fan of playing music,” says D’Onofrio, who also admires Freddie Mercury and The Beatles. “I have been playing piano for about 12 years. Our friend talked to Steven Tyler and showed him videos of me playing piano.”

His mother, Ann Marie D’Onofrio, went further. She says at the ball, Tyler descended the staircase and headed straight to her son and gave him a hug.

“I heard you came all the way out here to see an old man like me,” she recalls Tyler saying. “He spent time with Ethan. Ethan understated his talents. He’s great on the piano. He did his own arrangement of Aerosmith’s ‘What It Takes.’ My friend played it for Steven, and he was so honored. He couldn’t believe a kid had done that because most kids don’t know who Steven Tyler is.”

The meeting at the award ceremony led to an invite to an Aerosmith show in London.

“He invited us to be VIP guests with his family,” she says, “Liv Tyler, his daughter, lives over there. Just to see Steven Tyler interact with his grandkids, he’s just a regular grandpa. He’s so concerned about his grandkids. The little ones had headphones on to protect their hearing. He’s just a family guy.”

Ethan’s ‘mission’

Although he’s active in scouts and music, D’Onofrio is dedicated and devoted to his faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his family, which includes brother Jason, 11, and father, Mike.

“It takes up all my life—not in a bad way,” D’Onofrio says. “I can see the effects of my faith in everything I do—my choices, my drive. I know many good role models because of the church.

“If it wasn’t for my church, I wouldn’t be close to my Eagle Scout. It’s a big stress getting your Eagle Scout. I understand how important it is.”

After graduation, D’Onofrio is hoping to get into Brigham Young University in Utah, although he’s unsure what he wants to study. First, though, he’s headed on a two-year mission for his church.

“I am looking forward to being in a foreign country serving the Lord,” he says. “You don’t get to choose which country you’re going to. They choose for you. I like to travel a lot.”

Among the spots he’s visited are New York, Washington, D.C., California, The Bahamas, London, Mexico, Canada and Vancouver.

“The LDS Church has been instrumental because of the way the church is structured,” she says. “It’s run by the members. Ethan has been up in front speaking to 100 to 200 people. He’s been doing it his whole life.

“They make kids get up and give little talks and sing. He plays piano at church all the time. He has those opportunities to grow. He’s had so many good mentors who have helped.”

D’Onofrio inspires others as well, starting with his brother.

“He plays piano and he’s a scout as well,” says Ann Marie, a nurse practitioner. “He really idolizes his brother and tries to emulate him. He’s driven by that and he also plays piano.

“I’m just so very proud of Ethan. He has his own mission chip, so to speak. Even as a toddler he was so driven. If he wanted something, he would do it over and over and over until he learned it. At the same time, he’s always been a very easy, mild-mannered child. I’m really proud of him.”   

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