Take one huge blood drive and divide by 12

Article published Oct 16, 2014
Take one huge blood drive and divide by 12
GOLM 2014: Take a huge blood drive, divide by 12
By Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer
The Gift of Life Marathon blood drive becomes a series of sprints this year.

Organizers announced Wednesday that instead of one daylong blood drive, this year’s Gift of Life Marathon will consist of 12 blood drives over 12 days — making it, they say, the longest blood drive in the country.

Red Cross officials said in 2012 they no longer wanted to devote the resources necessary for massive one-day events. However, Mary Powell, president of sponsor Green Mountain Power, convinced the nonprofit group to give Rutland one more chance at breaking the national record for blood collected during a one-day blood drive.

With the record secured at 2,350 pints at the close of last year’s drive, organizers and the Red Cross held a series of meetings to decide the future of the event.

“It’s become a really important part of this community, part of its character, part of its reputation,” organizer Steve Costello said.

Organizers are referring to the new format as the “12 Days of Giving” — the “12” signs that appeared around downtown without explanation in recent weeks were part of a hype-building effort — with blood drives planned daily from Dec. 2 to Dec. 16.

The first location will be at Castleton State College. Subsequent drives are planned for the Army Reserve center on Post Road, Rutland High School, the Diamond Run Mall, Rutland Regional Medical Center, the Rutland American Legion Post, the Holiday Inn, College of St. Joseph, Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, the Rutland Elks Club and Fair Haven Union High School.

The final drive in the series will be back where it all began, at the Paramount Theatre, Dec. 16.

Unlike in previous years, the 2014 Gift of Life Marathon has no goal for the amount of blood collected.

“It’s about who we are, celebration,” organizer Terry Jaye said. “It’s about owning that record. They can never take that away from us. As my friend Jack Healy says, once a champion, always a champion.”

Costello preceded the announcement Wednesday at the Paramount Theatre by presenting Rutland Mayor Christopher Louras with a solid marble plaque in the shape of the outline of Vermont, commemorating the record-setting drive.

“It really is amazing, when you look at the history of the blood drive, how quickly it grew to that level,” he said, recalling that the first drive collected 363 pints. “We want to make sure it is commemorated and remembered in City Hall.”

Louras said City Hall was exactly where the plaque was going.

“While we commemorated this event on our arms, our arms do not have an indefinite shelf-life,” Louras said, referring to the tattoos he, Costello and Jaye received in celebration of setting the record. “This marble does.”