Hundreds huddled together at a candlelight vigil outside of Francis Scott Key Elementary Middle School last November to honor the life of Alex Wroblewski—the 41-year-old Locust Point native who was fatally shot during an armed robbery at the Royal Farms on Key Highway earlier that month.
Friends, neighbors, and city officials addressed the crowd, expressing their condolences and sharing favorite memories of Wroblewski—who most knew by his nickname, Albo.
“His last name was too long,” explains Wroblewski’s close friend Patrick Dahlgren. “Nobody really called him Alex or Al. He was just Albo.”
Dahlgren—owner of The Rowhouse Grille where Wroblewski worked for 10 years—remembers his best friend’s bold personality.
“First of all, he was so loud,” Dahlgren recalls. “You could hear him no matter where he was in the building. But he just had this charismatic way, he was a one-of-a-kind person.”
In the wake of the tragedy, Wroblewski’s family urged community members to send donations to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) in lieu of flowers.
Raising money for LLS was a passion that Dahlgren bonded over with Wroblewski, whose uncle passed away from the disease. Both participated in the society’s Man of the Year fundraising campaign, and Wroblewski’s fundraising team, Wroblewski’s Warriors, hosted everything from crab feasts to fishing trips to support the cause.
"The LLS connection started when I ran for Man of the Year four years ago," Dahlgren explains. "And Alex did it last year. It's a 10-week program where 10 people are nominated and each raises as much money as they can during that period of time. There is a winner and a gala, but it's mostly about raising money for the cause."
Now, Dahlgren and the staff at The Rowhouse Grille are hosting a special event to honor Wroblewski’s life, and his work advocating for blood cancer research. On Tuesday, January 16, Wroblewski’s birthday, the Federal Hill bar will host a fundraiser featuring live entertainment and unlimited eats and drinks.
For a $30 donation, guests will enjoy music spun by DJ Noteman, bottomless beer, wine, and liquor, and a buffet spread featuring appetizers and Wroblewski’s favorite personal pizzas. There will also be a silent auction with prizes donated from local businesses including REV Cycle Studio, and restaurants in the Federal Hill Hospitality Association. Nearly 100 percent of all proceeds will be donated to LLS.
The event will also be an opportunity for Rowhouse to acknowledge the fundraising that the community has done in Wroblewski’s honor in the weeks since his death. Dahlgren estimates that neighborhood fundraisers and crowdfunding campaigns have raised nearly $20,000 since November. He plans to present a check to Wroblewski’s parents at the event, which will be donated to LLS in his memory.
“Handing over the check is going to be tough,” Dahlgren says. “But after that, we’re going to try to have some fun. We want to try to celebrate his life and bring people’s spirits up as best we can.”
But Dahlgren’s work won’t end after the event. He is gearing up to represent the state of Maryland in the National Man of the Year program once again this April, where he will continue to raise money for the cause in honor of his late friend.
“He was so memorable—everybody in the community knew him,” Dahlgren says. “Even if people didn’t know his name, they would say hello to him and he would say hello back. It was just his being.”