RUTLAND – The biggest blood drive in America, Rutland’s record-breaking Gift-of-Life Marathon, is about to become the longest.
The revamped “Gift-of-Life Marathon — 12 Days of Giving” will run from Dec. 2 to 16 at sites throughout the Rutland region, and will be the longest blood drive in U.S. history.
“The GOLM will change significantly, the changes intended to help ensure that this important community-building tradition will have a long life and save lives for years to come,” GMP Vice President Steve Costello said. “It will continue to bring the greater Rutland community together in a way we never imagined 11 years ago, while providing blood at a critical time of year.”
Costello, Terry Jaye from WJJR and Castleton College President Dave Wolk announced plans for the 2014 GOLM, shifting the focus from one-day records to a sustainable model with less stress for donors, volunteers, organizers and the Red Cross. There will be far more options to donate.
“We are thrilled that Rutland broke the national record, but it was clear to all of us that we needed to change the model if it were to continue to be successful,” said Terry Jaye, program manager at WJJR. “We hope to maintain the sense of community while expanding the effort throughout the Rutland region.”
Wolk, who signed Castleton on as a lead organizer and sponsor last year, along with GMP and WJJR, said the GOLM’s 12 Days of Giving was designed to help ensure an adequate regional blood supply without the expense and huge logistical challenges of a massive one-day drive, which required hundreds of volunteers and workers, many of them coming from other states.
“This year’s GOLM will be a celebration of last year’s record and the greater-Rutland community,” said Wolk, who will host the first day of the drive, Dec. 2. “We expect that by physically spreading the effort across the region and over two weeks of time, we can provide a great experience for donors while still making a substantial contribution to the regional blood supply.”
Organizers are not setting a numerical goal. “We want to help the Red Cross collect as much blood as possible while ensuring a great experience for donors, volunteers and staff,” Costello said. “Our focus will be more on the individual and community experience than the numbers.”
The GOLM 12 Days of Giving will be held:
Dec. 2 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Castleton College
Dec. 3 from noon to 6 p.m. at U.S. Army Reserve on Post Road in Rutland Town
Dec. 5 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Rutland High School
Dec. 6 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Diamond Run Mall
Dec. 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Rutland Regional Medical Center
Dec. 9 from noon to 6 p.m. at the Rutland American Legion
Dec. 10 from noon to 6 p.m. at the Holiday Inn in Rutland Town
Dec. 11 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.at the College of St. Joseph gymnasium
Dec. 12 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Burr & Burton Academy in Manchester
Dec. 13 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Rutland Elks Club
Dec. 15 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Fair Haven Union High School
Dec. 16 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Paramount Theatre.
“The evolution of the GOLM has been nothing short of amazing,” said Mike Kempesty, the Red Cross CEO for Northern New England. “This year’s changes will be the biggest yet, but should ensure the drive continues to help solve seasonal blood shortages as it also builds on Rutland’s amazing community spirit. We are delighted by the commitment, flexibility and ingenuity our sponsors have shown in working to ensure the GOLM’s continuation.”
Appointments, which are strongly encouraged, may be made by calling 800-RED-CROSS or by visiting www.giftoflifemarathon.com. While supplies last, donors will receive gifts from Killington Resort and The Vermont Country Store.
The Gift-of-Life Marathon collected 368 pints in its first year, 2003, and it quickly grew. The drive collected 1,024 pints in 2009, when New York filmmaker Art Jones filmed the event for the documentary “The Blood in This Town,” and set the New England record. In 2013, after two previous attempts to break the national record of 1,968 pints, the GOLM collected a whopping 2,350 pints of blood and shattered the old mark. Rutland has now held three of the four largest blood drives in American history.