RUTLAND – With summertime blood shortages looming, organizers of the Gift-of-Life Marathon and a local kidney donor and recipient are urging blood donors to sign up for the record-setting drive’s little cousin – the 2016 Summer Mini Marathon on July 19.
Rutland City resident Summer Stoutes donated a kidney to Rutland Town resident Brent Garrow in April. Together, they are asking all of their friends, families and supporters to participate in the Mini Marathon.
“For those people who need it, a blood donation is every bit as heroic as an organ donation,” said Stoutes, who donated a kidney to Garrow despite never having met him. “Each donation means life, or a better life, for someone who needs it.”
Garrow said he would be forever thankful for Stoutes’ gift and the opportunity for a normal life that it provided. “Her donation changed my life immeasurably,” Garrow said. “This isn’t an abstract issue for me — Summer provided me with a new lease on life, which every blood donor does when they roll up their sleeve.”
Garrow, a firefighter, and Stoutes, a teacher, agreed to become ambassadors for the Gift-of-Life Summer Mini Marathon to help educate potential donors about the importance of donations. “There is no substitute for donated blood,” Garrow said.
Stoutes added: “Through organ or blood donation, we each have the power to extend lives, improve quality of life, and demonstrate our commitment to our community and fellow man.”
The Gift-of-Life Summer Mini Marathon is set for July 19 from 12-noon to 6 p.m. at the College of St. Joseph in Rutland. Appointments, which are strongly suggested, may be made by calling 800-RED-CROSS or by visiting www.redcrossblood.org. Walk-ins will be accepted but appointments help ensure a faster, smoother process.
Organizer Steve Costello from GMP called Stoutes’ gift to Garrow awe-inspiring, and encouraged people to follow her lead. “Summer had to go through extensive testing and invasive surgery to help Brent,” Costello said. “By contrast, donating blood is a simple, virtually painless process that can have equally life-changing impacts.”
“I’ve known and admired Summer and Brent for many years, and I’m thrilled that two people who I respect so much are teaming up to lead us in spreading the word about the importance of organ, blood and tissue donation,” Castleton President Dave Wolk said.
The Mini Marathon is a spinoff from the Gift-of-Life Marathon, which in 2013 shattered the national one-day blood drive record of 1,968 pints. Rutland’s record of 2,350 pints still stands.
Both drives are scheduled when blood supplies are typically low due to vacations, travel and school closings.