Organizers urge donors to make appointments for
With fewer than 1,000 appointments in the books three weeks
before the 10th annual Gift-of-Life Marathon, organizers are urging
donors to sign up to take part in the Rutland-area's last chance to
set the one-day record for a community blood drive.
"We had hoped to be further along with appointments at this
point, but we're sensing a lot of concern over the wait times last
year, and we think that is hurting the numbers," said Steve
Costello, vice president for generation and energy innovation at
Green Mountain Power, one of the organizers. "We know there were
problems in 2011, but we want to reassure the community that the
Red Cross is geared up for this, and that by making an appointment,
folks will help dramatically reduce any waiting."
Regional Red Cross officials say the drive, and one in
Manchester, N.H., that set the current record, grew so quickly that
they stretched their resources thin - but they do have the staff to
make one last record-breaking attempt in Rutland.
"We will do everything in our power to help Rutland break the
record this year," said Mike Kempesty, chief executive officer for
the Red Cross in New England.
Catamount Radio Operations Manager Terry Jaye said he feared
problems last year had cut enthusiasm for the event, but urged
donors to give the drive one more try.
"We can do this. I know the community can do it, and I
truly believe the Red Cross can do it," Jaye said. "Who would have
thought we could collect 1000 pints in a day? Or 1500? Or the 1,855
collected last year? If we can capture the spirit this
community has shown year after year, which is tremendous, I know we
can do this together," Jaye said.
Organizers reiterated that there will be two major changes to
help improve the event:
• The drive will expand from three to four sites,
including the Paramount Theatre, the American Legion, the Elks Club
and the College of St. Joseph's gym, which will spread donors
across more square footage; and
• The Red Cross has committed to an increase of
nearly 50 percent in staffing.
"We are convinced that these two changes will help ensure a much
smoother process and keep wait times for those who make
appointments to a minimum," Costello said.
The GOLM collected 368 pints in 2003, and has grown steadily
ever since. For three straight years, the GOLM broke the New
England record for a one-day community blood drive. Boston
held the record of 772 pints until Rutland collected 856 in 2008
and 1,024 in 2009. In September 2010, Boston collected 1,177
pints to reclaim the New England record, but Rutland took it back
that December, with 1,400 pints. Manchester, N.H., broke that
record - and the national record - last year, with 1,968 pints. The
GOLM collected 1,855 pints last year, making it the second-largest
one day drive in the country, the largest per-capita in the
The event is organized by WJJR and Green Mountain Power, with
lead support from the Paramount Theatre and Small Dog Electronics.
While supplies last, donors will receive gift bags stuffed with
items from dozens of local businesses and organizations.
For an appointment for the Dec. 18 event, call 800-RED-CROSS or
visit www.giftoflifemarathon.com. Potential donors are also
encouraged to visit www.redcrossblood.org for eligibility