Family encourages blood donations to combat severe shortage
In hopes of drawing friends, colleagues and fans, one of Rutland’s iconic blood drives has been renamed for local musician and businessman Peter Giancola. The move comes at a time when the American Red Cross is experiencing a severe blood shortage as hospital demand — due to rising trauma cases and electives — outpaces donations. Donors of all blood types, especially type O, are urged to make an appointment to donate.
The Peter Giancola Mini Gift of Life Blood Drive will be held July 13 at the U.S. Army Reserve (2143 Post Road) in Rutland Town, with appointments available from 12-6 p.m. The drive was dedicated to Giancola last year, prompting an outpouring of donors at a critical time, and has been renamed in his honor in an effort to spread the word about the life-giving impact blood donors can have. Appointments are available at redcrossblood.org or by calling 800-RED-CROSS.
Donors will receive a free Hydro Flask from Come Alive Outside and a $10 gift card courtesy of Suburban Propane.
Giancola, a popular businessperson and saxophone player in the legendary local band Satin & Steel, relied on dozens of blood donors in the last 10 years of his life, whose donations improved his quality of life and helped him survive much longer than his doctors expected. Giancola died in March 2020 after a 10-year battle with cancer.
The drive, sponsored by the Giancola Family of Businesses and Green Mountain Power, is an important event for the Red Cross, collecting hundreds of pints of blood during a period when donations often plummet.
“Blood donors gave my dad several more years with his family that he wouldn’t have otherwise had, and drastically improved his quality of life,” Giancola’s daughter, Gabriella, said. “In supporting this drive, we want to give back in thanks for everyone who helped our dad and encourage others to help the hundreds of patients and their families who will benefit from blood donations made in his honor.”
Jennifer Costa, regional communications director for the Red Cross of Northern New England, said 560 different Vermonters each week must donate to meet hospital demand. “Unlike other medical treatments, blood cannot be manufactured or stockpiled. It has a shelf life and we need to provide a steady stream of donors to ensure local patients have access to lifesaving blood as soon as they need it. We encourage anyone who is eligible to make an appointment — and keep it. Your donation can save up to three lives,” Costa said.
Pete Giancola was a regular blood donor before getting sick, and was incredibly appreciative of everyone who helped him through blood donations.
GMP’s Steve Costello, who started the Gift-of-Life Marathon with Terry Jaye nearly 20 years ago, said renaming the Mini Gift of Life Blood Drive after Giancola was a natural. “People turned out in droves to honor Pete last year, including a lot of first-time donors,” Costello said. “This is a way to continue to remember Pete in the community, and to remind people that when they donate, it benefits someone like Pete, whose life is saved or dramatically improved.”
The blood drive’s goal is 256 pints, and there is room, even with precautions to make donors comfortable and safe, to handle well over 300 donors. Appointments are critical to reaching the goal.
This drive is an offshoot of the national-record-setting Gift-of-Life Marathon (GOLM). The GOLM began as an ordinary blood drive, but over time grew into the largest blood drive in American history, setting the national record of 2,350 pints in one day in 2013. The record still stands.
For more information or to make an appointment visit: redcrossblood.org or call 800-RED-CROSS.