Friends killed in Pittsburgh synagogue shooting shared love of baseball, donating blood

PITTSBURGH — Eleven members of our community were taken from us too soon on Oct. 27, 2018.

Daniel Stein and Irving Younger were two of the 11. They were friends for 35 years.

Their volunteerism helped save dozens of lives and that continues in their name to this day.

Daniel Stein always had a Pirates hat on.

His daughter, Leigh, describes him as very outgoing and says he made friends with everyone he came in contact with.

“He always enjoyed volunteering and as he got older his love for volunteering grew,” said Joseph, Daniel’s son.

And that’s the part of Daniel’s story that his children say continues on, even after death.

On October 27, 2018, Leigh says they experienced the worst tragedy possible.

Their dad, Daniel, was among the 11 people killed at the Tree of Life synagogue shooting. He was a devoted member of the New Light congregation worshipping there that Saturday morning.

“The world definitely lost 11 very special people on that day,” said Joseph. “It’s a tough situation because it’s just the unthinkable, but people have been very very supportive.”

“And not just the community,” added Leigh. “But the entire world, pretty much, has been outstanding.”

It’s part of what has helped Leigh and Joseph on their journey and part of what motivates them to repay that kindness, in honor of their father.

“He just loved to give back and he loved baseball,” recalled Leigh.

So blood drives at PNC Park became Daniel’s “thing” later in life. He and his friend of 35 years, Irving Younger, another member who was killed at the synagogue, made a day out of helping Vitalant by giving blood and watching the Pirates. They became known as Dan and Irv by the folks at Vitalant, and they’re remembered very fondly.

“Out of all those donors, Dan & Irv really stood out because of their buoyant personalities, because of their open hearts, because they were really powerful role models for blood donation,” said Kristen Lane, Regional Communications Manager Vitalant.

Lane says Irv donated 20 blood times and Dan donated blood 30 times. Each donation saves 3 lives, so the men potentially saved 150 people.

“So amazing and so impressive,” Leigh reacted after hearing how her father’s donations could have saved 90 lives. “I didn’t realize he donated that many times I’m just like, ‘wow’.”

So since their dad’s untimely passing, Leigh and Joseph, along with other families connected with the tragedy at the Tree of Life, have helped with blood drives in the area.

“It’s amazing to see the amount of friends, family and strangers that come out because they have it in them, just like my dad, to do something special and to give of themselves and to give back,” said Leigh.

“It is definitely passed down to me and my sister which I plan to pass down to my son,” said Joseph.

His son, Henri, just turned five, and only got to spend seven months with his grandpa, Daniel, before the tragedy at the synagogue.

“We definitely want to teach Henri that the world is built on love and there are good people in the world,” said Leigh.

Like Daniel Stein’s kids, Leigh and Joseph, carrying on their father’s legacy.

“My dad is always in me, and he’s always watching over me,” said Joseph.

Vitalant provides blood to patients at AHN and UPMC hospitals. Lane says the need for blood is severe because the organization hasn’t recovered from the pandemic shortages yet.

She says hospitals need 600 blood donations a day and Vitalant is only getting 1/3 of that. Pittsburgh has a great need for blood, she says, because it has so many trauma hospitals and teaching hospitals.

The blood collected is separated into three parts: plasma, platelets, and red blood cells. Each part can save a life, so one donation can save up to three lives.

If you’d like to donate, you can schedule an appointment with Vitalant here: https://vitalant.org/

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