On July 2, 2015

Gift-of-Life Summer Mini Marathon targets blood shortage

RUTLAND – With blood donations in a summer slump, Rutland’s Gift-of-Life Summer Mini Marathon Blood Drive will be back for a fourth run this summer, aiming to boost regional blood donations cut short by donor travel and school vacations.

“As sure as thunderstorms and beach outings, summertime means a reduction in blood donations,” said organizer Steve Costello from Green Mountain Power.  “People are busy, traveling, and entertaining kids who are out of school, so donations routinely fall off. The Mini Marathon is intended to boost local blood supplies during a critical time and help save lives.”

The Gift-of-Life Summer Mini Marathon will be held Tuesday, July 21, from noon to 6 p.m., at the Paramount Theatre. Appointments, which are strongly suggested, may be made by calling 800-RED-CROSS or by visiting www.redcrossblood.org. Organizers hope to fill hundreds of slots via appointments, with walk-ins accepted to fill in for no-shows or given a specific time to return.

The goal is to collect 350 to 400 pints with minimal or no waiting.

The summer drive is a spinoff from Rutland’s Gift-of-Life Marathon, held each December.  The GOLM began in 2003, when 368 pints were collected.  The GOLM set the national one-day blood drive record of 2,350 pints in 2013 – a record Rutland still holds. Last year the one-day marathon transitioned into the GOLM 12 Days of Giving – a marathon of a different sort.

“The Rutland region’s spirit of giving is unmatched, and we hope to tap into that spirit July 21,” said WJJR Program Director Terry Jaye, co-organizer of the event.  “I recently had surgery on my knee, and was tested in case I needed blood, and it was reassuring to know someone I didn’t even know had donated a pint in case I needed it. It gave me a renewed appreciation for blood donors and the importance of a safe and reliable blood supply.”

Donors will enjoy a Red Cross tote bag, a festive atmosphere and a performer’s view from the Paramount stage.

Sixteen-year-olds are eligible to donate blood in Vermont. Parents may accompany their children to the drive, or may go online, print and sign a consent form, and provide the form for 16-year-olds to bring the document to the drive. The form is at www.redcrossblood.org/students/sixteen/nne.  All presenting donors must present a photo ID or Red Cross donor card.

Parking in Rutland’s downtown parking garage will be free the day of the drive.

Mayor Chris Louras said the GOLM and Mini Marathon have become part of the fabric of the greater Rutland community.

“These drives have helped save countless lives while building tremendous bonds within the community,” Louras said.  “While the reason for doing this is to save lives, the benefit to community goodwill is immeasurable.”

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