Local News

Gift-of-Life Marathon Blood Drive celebrates 20th year


Marks 10th year since record breaking drive of 2013

Vermont’s biggest blood drive is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year — with a Rutland resident’s story of survival highlighting the need for blood.

The Gift-of-Life Marathon Blood Drive, which began in 2003, will cover four days — Dec. 5, 7, 13, and 15 — and Rutland resident Alex Adams is serving as ambassador, hoping his story will inspire friends, coworkers and neighbors to donate to help people like him.

At 34 years old, Adams experienced several life-threatening heart attacks and had three blood clots from a viral infection earlier this year, but was saved in part by blood donors who had rolled up their sleeves to help people like him.

After being transported from the Rutland Regional Medical Center Emergency Room to the University of Vermont Medical Center for surgery, Adams suffered three cardiac arrests. He received multiple blood transfusions to reduce strain on his heart until it could beat on its own again. 

“Your donation can help ensure doctors and hospitals have what they need to treat patients like me,” said Adams, who works at Green Mountain Power, one of the sponsors of the GOLM. “I am here today because three people I don’t know donated blood, something members of my family have long done to support our community. Blood donation has become truly personal.

“I’m incredibly thankful to everyone who donates blood, and have a very personal, renewed appreciation for donors,” Adams said.

Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. Blood donations to the American Red Cross, which collects, processes and distributes 40% of the nation’s blood supply, help ensure new moms, premature babies, accident victims as well as heart surgery, organ transplant and cancer patients have access to safe, lifesaving blood. In Vermont, the Red Cross must collect 80 pints of blood every day to meet hospital patient demand. That work is made possible, in part, by generous community sponsors that help ensure hospital shelves are stocked by hosting blood drives.

This year’s GOLM marks 10 years since Rutland set the record for the largest one-day blood drive in American history in 2013 — a record that still stands. The GOLM will include drawings at the Castleton Campus of Vermont State University, the Elks Club in Rutland, and Rutland High School.

“We never dreamt in the early days that the GOLM would become as big as it did,” said Steve Costello, one of the organizers. “It’s helped save thousands of lives, and it continues to be one of the brightest spots on Rutland’s calendar, year after year.”

“We’re thrilled to be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the national record,” WJJR’s Terry Jaye said. “The greater-Rutland community has come through at this drive for decades, and with a national blood shortage going on right now, it’s as important as ever that folks step up again.”

Blood drive schedule:

Tuesday, Dec. 5 , from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the President’s House, 119 Alumni Drive, in Castleton.

Thursday, Dec. 7, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Rutland High School, 22 Stratton Rd., Rutland.

Wednesday, Dec. 13, from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Elks Lodge #345 at 44-46 Pleasant St. in Rutland.

Friday, Dec. 15, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Elks Lodge #345 at 44-46 Pleasant St. in Rutland.

Don’t wait, patients are counting on critical care this holiday season. To make an appointment, use the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Enter sponsor keyword: GOLMWINTER.

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