By Steve Costello
Editor’s note: Steve Costello is one of the organizers of the Gift-of-Life Marathon.
As we approach the 20th annual Gift-of-Life Marathon Blood Drive, during a period of divisiveness and ugliness nationally and at times even in Vermont, I’ve been reflecting on some of the people who’ve become synonymous with the GOLM and all it has meant to Rutland.
It would be hard to find a better group of people.
There are literally thousands who have been part of the GOLM over the past 19 events, from the donors who set a national record of 2,350 pints in 2013, to phlebotomists, volunteers, partners, sponsors, and collaborators of all kinds, including media who covered the event over the years. Many of these folks have been inspirational. They include:
- Nanci Gordon, who was in on the ground floor when we started the GOLM, helping spread the word through her work on the radio, and donating every year since.
- David Carini, a chemist by trade, and a volunteer extraordinaire, who donated more than 13,000 hours to the Red Cross over the years. He died this year, and this year’s GOLM is dedicated to him.
- Bobby Poquette, one of the kindest, most giving human beings I know, who did literally everything — short of actually drawing blood — he could to make the GOLM a success year in and year out.
- Mary Ojala, a longtime Red Cross volunteer who continued to support the GOLM as she neared and passed a century on Earth.
- Chris Louras, who helped make the GOLM bigger than folks could have imagined by saying yes to every harebrained idea put to him to help market the event. Who will forget his Mohawk, that horrible beard, or the tattoo?
- Summer Stoutes and Sandy Adams, local women who went beyond donating blood to give kidneys to change the lives of others.
- New Yorker Art Jones, who filmed efforts to collect 1,000 pints in one day, and produced “The Blood in This Town,” a documentary that gave many viewers a new view of the community and its people — and no doubt inspired lots of blood donors.
- Terry Jaye, a relentless force who continues to play a key role in marketing the GOLM and serves as a constant reminder of the importance of community. The GOLM would simply not exist without him.
- Stefanie Schaffer, who overcame a fear of public speaking, bared her soul, and reinvigorated the GOLM in recent years by sharing her remarkable story of grit, strength, and grace.
Thanks to support from Diamonds and More, Green Mountain Power, and MKF Properties, donors will receive a free copy of Stefanie’s new book, “Without Any Warning,” while supplies last. It will not only inspire readers to donate blood, it’s a lesson in resiliency and positivity, and demonstrates how good can be found in even the most perilous of circumstances.
To get your free, autographed copy, sign up to donate Dec. 6 at Castleton University; Dec. 14 or 15 at the Rutland Elks Lodge, or Dec. 16 at the Rutland Recreation Community Center. You’ll help save a life, and maybe inspire someone else in the process.