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After setbacks, Stefanie Schaffer refocuses on life, opportunity, and Gift-of-Life Marathon

Speech at GOLM kickoff Tuesday, Oct. 26, will highlighting remarkable courage

Two years after what she thought was the end of dozens of surgeries following a boat explosion that paralyzed her, forced the amputation of her legs, and caused incredible emotional trauma, Rutland resident and survivor Stefanie Schaffer is reclaiming her life and looking forward for the first time in years.

Stephanie Schaffer

At the kickoff for the 2021 Gift-of-Life Marathon Blood Drive, Schaffer, 25, will detail a series of physical and emotional setbacks since a 2019 Chamber of Commerce speech that was intended as a celebration of her recovery and first steps with prosthetics — and her inspiring resolve to rebuild her life and create a future filled with hope and purpose.

The GOLM kickoff will be hosted Oct. 26 at noon at the Paramount Theatre, where the blood drive started.

The public is invited to hear Schaffer’s story, and to participate in a question-and-answer period afterward.

All attendees must show proof of vaccination and wear masks.

“I thought the Chamber speech was the beginning of my rebirth, but right after it was when things really started to go wrong,” Schaffer said. “I faced multiple new surgeries and emotional challenges, again lost the ability to walk, and started to question whether there would ever be an end to hospital visits and blood transfusions. For a while, I thought that might be all I had to anticipate in life.”

Schaffer’s story of moving beyond these physical challenges and mental pain and working to embrace each day with positivity and purpose will be at the heart of her GOLM kickoff speech.   Entitled “Back on My Feet,” her speech will detail her remarkable physical and mental progress in the past two years — and the critical importance of donating blood.

“Thanks to an amazing network of family, friends, blood donors and medical teams, I’ve found a new starting point and have reclaimed my life, and it’s better and more meaningful than I could ever have imagined!” Schaffer said.  “I’ve come to appreciate life, opportunity disguised as tragedy, and blood donors, without whom I would literally not be here today.”

The GOLM began as an ordinary blood drive but over time grew into the largest in American history, setting the national record of 2,350 pints in one day in 2013. Schaffer has been an ambassador for the event since 2019.

Plans for this year’s four-day drive will be announced at the kickoff event.

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