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March 24. 2013 5:30PM

Fundraiser will honor late founder of Portsmouth Sheraton hotel


PORTSMOUTH - As the Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside hotel celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, it is with a heavy heart.

On Feb. 10, the hotel's founder and developer, Stephen Griswold, died of blood cancer.

Shari Young, vice president and managing director for LodgeSys Inc., the managing agent for the Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside, said recognizing the 25th anniversary of the hotel's official opening on April 4 was "unthinkable" without honoring Griswold's memory.

So on that date, the hotel will host a bone marrow drive in Griswold's memory to help others who suffer from the kind of blood disease that took his life.

Young said Griswold had a great vision for the development of the northern tier in Portsmouth in the 1980s, and a great respect for both the city leaders that he worked with then to bring it to reality, and the people who called the north end of Portsmouth home before the urban renewal began in the 1970s.

"He felt great responsibility to create value in the project as the anchor for the development of the north end of the city, and to provide an economic stimulant for the city and the Seacoast region in whole," Young said.

Some 25 years later, Young said it is clear the impact the Sheraton development has had on the city.

Young has been with the hotel since before it opened, and it is still hard for her to talk about Griswold and the effect he had on her and other staff without choking up.

"He encouraged and supported the hotel staff in community service, and was an inspiration to work with," Young said. "Like the hotel's impact on the city, Steve has left an imprint on all who knew him."

The Sheraton has partnered with Be the Match Registry for the bone marrow donor drive. The Rhode-Island based organization services patients in need of a bone marrow transplant who do not have a matching donor in their family.

"Because he did suffer from a blood disease, this is certainly a way to look forward and offer opportunities for patients in the future," Young said.

Young said the bone marrow drive is one of many ways the hotel will look to honor Griswold this year.

"To me, Steve was both a mentor and a friend, and I think it's hard to let go of someone you have worked with for so long and has had a bigger-than-life presence, and so we look for ways to carry that memory forward," Young said.

The Be the Match bone marrow donor registry drive is being held at the hotel on April 4 from 2:30 to 7 p.m.

More information on how the bone marrow registry works and eligibility requirements, visit marrow.org.


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