Blood drive coming soon

When the Gift-of-Life Marathon began in 2003, no one could have dreamed of what it would become – a blood drive of unprecedented size and a community-builder, to boot.

In the ensuing 12 years, the GOLM has collected more than 13,300 pints of blood, set a national record of 2,350 pints in a day, and helped save literally thousands of lives.

From cancer patients to newborn babies, accident victims to folks undergoing surgery, there are people enjoying life in hundreds of communities across the northeast because of the generosity of GOLM blood donors.

It’s difficult to fathom the lives the Gift-of-Life has affected, from actual blood recipients to tens of thousands of their friends and family members. It’s equally difficult to measure the joy and happiness those donations have brought to people with nowhere to turn other than volunteers who selflessly roll up their sleeves to donate blood. It’s why the GOLM exists.

With December right around the corner, the 2015 GOLM - 12 Days of Giving offers the 13th annual opportunity to help save a life, build goodwill and demonstrate the tremendous spirit of the greater-Rutland area.

It all starts Dec. 1 at Castleton University, one of our lead partners along with Mix 981.1-WJJR, and ends two weeks later at the College of St. Joseph. Appointments are available by calling 800-RED-CROSS or visiting

I encourage all of your readers, especially those who have never donated blood before, to join us on one of the 12 days, and give a gift to a stranger and the community at large. 


(Green Mountain Power vice president and Gift-of-Life Marathon organizer)

Rutland Town

Time to give blood again

November 18, 2015

As a lifelong resident of Rutland, I’ve long appreciated the way this community works together when the chips are down, or when a challenge confronts us as a community. It’s one of the reasons I love this time of year, when the greater Rutland area demonstrates its amazing sense of camaraderie at the Gift-of-Life Marathon.

For the past 12 years, I’ve donated blood, volunteered to help and witnessed the selflessness of the people of our community. I’ve watched grandmothers, moms with their first-time donor teenaged son or daughter donate alongside police officers, nurses, construction workers, linemen, teachers, lawyers, doctors, students and firefighters.

I’ve seen things that moved me each time, including couples on their first date last year at Castleton University, school-aged students wanting to be a part of something bigger by volunteering their time, and every high school within a 30-mile radius volunteering together to make the event a huge success.

The drive has given me memories that I’ll cherish forever, while giving blood recipients not only memories, but the opportunity to create new memories thanks to the gift of life they received from an anonymous donor.

As the 2015 GOLM – 12 Days of Giving approaches, I’ve already made my appointment to donate and found several opportunities to volunteer. It’s my way of welcoming the holiday season, giving back to my community and giving a gift to pay forward.


Rutland Town


With Thanksgiving around the corner, we’re entering a time of year that is often a period of reflection and optimism, highlighted locally by the approach of the Gift-of-Life Marathon.

Growing up, my mother taught by example, and one of the lessons was about the importance of donating blood. She was unable to donate, though as a nurse she volunteered regularly and worked with the Red Cross coordinating community blood drives.

When I moved to Rutland in 2007, I was struck by how easy it was to participate as the entire community seemed connected to the Red Cross.  Blood drives, including the GOLM, were a big part of community life. I continued to volunteer, and for the first time, I donated blood at a CVPS employee blood drive. I’ve participated in employee blood drives and the GOLM ever since.

That connection has been at the heart of the Gift-of-Life Marathon’s success, and is one of the things I love about Rutland. As an alderman, I’ve seen this community pull together when the chips are down, and when a challenge lies ahead. How else can you explain the national record set last year?

I have already made my appointment for the Gift-of-Life’s 2014 version, the 12 Days of Giving. The drive connects my family lessons on community, holiday tradition, and the best of the Rutland region, and I encourage your readers to join me by calling 800-RED-CROSS today.

Melinda Humphrey

Rutland City

Proud of Rutland’s accomplishment

December 21, 2013

Words cannot aptly describe the sense of pride and appreciation I had when I read the results of the 2013 Gift of Life Marathon this week on my train ride. Although I’ve picked up and moved my life to the greater New York City area, I was so excited to hear that Rutland’s last chance at breaking the record for number of pints given at a blood marathon worked. Not only worked, but completely smashed Manchester’s 1,968 pints. 

My dad and I participated in the GOLM the past two years. Although it was a short-lived “tradition,” the atmosphere and anticipation of the event was too good to pass up, especially with the Christmas spirit that surrounds the Paramount at this time of year. I was more disappointed than I thought when I realized I wouldn’t be home in time for the marathon this year. 

No waiting in the cushy theater chairs hoping to get interviewed by the newspaper or radio, no nervous times in the screening room, no squeezing of the stress ball, and no wonderful and local food to cap off a day of good Samaritanism. I’m relieved Rutland didn’t fall short because I would’ve felt incredibly guilty. The teamwork, networking, and camaraderie around the event are impressive and unparalleled, and I am proud to say that I’m from the little town that could.


New York, N.Y.

Straight from the heart

Can you imagine a community anywhere in the world with a bigger heart than Rutland? There is evidence everywhere you look, but nowhere more compelling than in the herculean efforts of GMP’s Steve Costello, WJJR’s Terry Jaye, Rutland Mayor Chris Louras, over 200 Red Cross volunteers and well over 2,000 (we hope) good-hearted citizens who will give their blood to others whose lives depend on it.

At Castleton, the small college with the big heart, we are doing what we can to help, part of our growing investment in the Rutland region. Dozens and dozens of students and staff have already signed up for the Dec. 18 Gift of Life Marathon, and many more folks associated with the college throughout the region will be volunteering and donating blood for the good of the cause. 

We have made a significant investment in the blood drive, and in supporting the volunteers and donors, because we believe in Rutland and the renaissance that is unfolding before your eyes and from your hearts.

On Tuesday we will be transporting students, staff and anyone else anywhere in the greater Rutland area who needs a ride to and from any of the Red Cross venues. Please call my office at 468-1202, indicate the time and place for pickup, and I will be there with a Castleton van to offer personal chauffeur service. If I am already transporting other folks, our dean of students, Dennis Proulx, will also be at your service.

Castleton College is focusing all of our future investments in Rutland, from the new Spartan Dome to be installed next year adjacent to the Spartan Arena in Rutland Town, to the new art gallery already open in downtown Rutland, to several new and exciting entrepreneurial ventures we will be announcing in the new year. We are excited to be a partner in investing in Rutland’s growth and development. It’s the Rutland Renaissance. 

We believe in Rutland. 

We love a community with heart.

Please consider donating to the cause. 

It’s straight from the heart.


(President, Castleton State College)


Rutland, we can do this

Many of you may remember my late husband, Matt Harnett, who recently passed at the young age of 54. Matt was by far one of the healthiest and most athletic individuals you would have had the pleasure to have known. 

In less than one year from his initial diagnosis of lymphoma, a blood-based form of cancer, he was taken from us. After a grueling battle, which included a bone marrow treatment and countless blood transfusions, it is hard to imagine someone so strong could lose his life in such a short period of time.

Thanks to the many donors who gave their own personal and precious gift of life, we could remain hopeful through those difficult months. As unlikely as it might seem today, we all might have the need for blood some day — whether for ourselves or a loved one. 

All of us, even in a small way can help. Many college students are home on Christmas break. It would be a wonderful time to share a few hours with friends and give to a community event while sharing in a part of Rutland history. Whether it is giving someone a ride, or personally donating blood, there is something each of us can do. 

So please, during this busy season, while enjoying our festive gatherings, let’s make participating in the 2013 Gift-of-Life Marathon part of our holiday conversations. ’Tis the season of giving; please give so others can live. Come on Rutland. I know we can do this on Dec. 17. We’re Rutland strong!



November 27, 2013 
Section: OPINION 

Together we can save lives

Five thousand nine hundred and seven. That’s 5,907 lives, more than the number of people living in all of Fair Haven, Benson, Mendon and Shrewsbury combined. That’s 5,907 lives we can save by collectively donating 1,969 pints of blood. Blood drives at their heart are not about shaved heads or mohawks; not about growing an epic wonderment of a beard or a patchwork of mange-afflicted facial hair; not about first tattoos; and not even about breaking national records.

Blood drives are about saving lives.

And the lives we impact so greatly with our donations are not just those of each recipient. Moreover, every person receiving this magical gift of life has a son or daughter, a mother or father, a sister or brother, a spouse, a loved one, or a dear, dear friend. The lives we can save directly impact thousands upon thousands more in ways we cannot even begin to imagine.

As the community enters this season of thankfulness and selflessness, please carve out a short period from your busy day on Dec. 17 to save a few lives, to impact dozens more, and to be part ofsomething which is much, much greater than the sum of its parts: the Gift of Life Marathon.

While the satisfaction to be realized by a national record of 1,969 pints of blood is indeed delightful, the real story will be how our small community, in one day, transformed more lives than anywhere else in the nation has ever been able to. That would be truly magnificent.




Copyright, 2013, Rutland Herald

Join your heart to the drive

Please accept this letter of encouragement for all of the people of Rutland County to join in this year’s Gift-of-Life Marathon blood drawing. If you didn’t already know, this is not an “ordinary” event. Rutland has the distinction of having challenged – and in some cases defeated – the largest blood drives in the nation against the likes of Boston, Mass., St. Louis, Mo., Manchester, N.H., and others. We garnered enough attention to have a documentary movie made about us by a famous New York movie producer. Art Jones’ production of “The Blood in This Town” – our town, Rutland, Vt. – has been shown around the world as a testament to what a small community, with a big heart, can do.

This heart is yours and mine and we need to break the record. In 2012, we only missed the national, one-day blood drawing record by 14 pints. The record was 1,968 pints and we collected 1,955. We can beat this in 2014 and show the nation how big our hearts really are.

Already, in Rutland, 20 percent of us give blood annually, when the national average is 5 percent. So, 14 pints more than last year is well within reach considering the extra effort being expended this year.

Be a part of what can surely be the winning team if you join us.

We may not be rich or famous. We may not have the glitter of a big city, but our blood is just a good as anybody’s and we’re willing to share it to save lives like nobody else in the nation. What community could do anything more important than that?



November 25, 2013

Copyright, 2013, Rutland Herald

Gift-of-Life Marathon Radio-thon on WJJR, November 21, 2013

From left; John Krupp, a recent crash victim that lost seven pints of blood during the accident, Green Mountain Power’s Steve Costello, and Mix 98.1 WJJR’s Terry Jaye and Charlie Murphy broadcast live from the downtown Rutland Opera House on Thursday to spread the word about the upcoming Gift-of-Life Marathon held at the Paramount Theatre on Dec 17.

From left; John Krupp, a recent crash victim that lost seven pints of blood during the accident, Green Mountain Power’s Steve Costello, and Mix 98.1 WJJR’s Terry Jaye and Charlie Murphy broadcast live from the downtown Rutland Opera House on Thursday to spread the word about the upcoming Gift-of-Life Marathon held at the Paramount Theatre on Dec 17.

16 year-olds can give, too

It’s time to roll up our sleeves for the Gift-of-Life Marathon and get the Rutland area the national recognition it deserves for being so dedicated to those in need.

Every two seconds, someone in this country needs blood. Forty-four thousand blood donations are needed daily to help trauma victims, surgical patients, burn victims, patients with blood disorders and many others. The need for volunteer donations is constant because of seasonal shortages and the critical need for most blood types.

To alleviate some of these issues 39 states now allow 16-year-olds to donate. Vermont is now one of those states since the state Legislature voted to lower the age to give blood in 2011. I was proud to be a key sponsor of the bill.

Safety of young adults was the number one concern of our committee and the American Red Cross. New height and weight requirements were introduced for the safety of high school age donors, which makes it a better experience for all.

The experience the American Red Cross has had with these young adults has been very positive. In 2008, 15.2 percent of donations were from 16-18-year-olds. In 2009 it was 15.3 percent. The positive experiences are not exclusive to the Red Cross. The biggest benefit in reducing the age to donate comes in increasing our blood supply and saving lives.

Call the American Red Cross at 1-800-Red Cross to make your appointment at one of the five locations (Paramount Theatre, American Legion, College of St. Joseph, Elks Club, and Holiday Inn).


West Rutland

 Great big party that saves lives

It is hard to believe that we are planning for the 11th Gift of Life Marathon — on Tuesday, Dec. 17. 

It seems like the blink of an eye since Steve Costello approached us at WJJR to help open up the blood drive to the wider community. I don’t think any of us could have foreseen how much it has grown, and how it has become such a source of pride for people in this region. 

I am absolutely certain none of us imagined we would need five locations to accommodate everyone who wants to help set a national record of 1,969 pints collected in one day.

From my perspective while behind the microphone at the Paramount Theatre, it has been thrilling and inspiring to witness the energy of the many Red Cross personnel involved, and the quiet dedication to the cause shown by volunteers and donors alike. 

We hear stories from people about how strangers’ donations of blood saved their child’s life — or their own. We talk to people who have rare diseases that require them to receive regular transfusions throughout the year. 

We have a listener who insists that had we not persuaded him to try to donate one year, his own health issues would not have been discovered and he likely would have died. He was not eligible to donate that day — but once he got the treatment, he needed, he vowed to become a regular donor. Now he faithfully shows up to give others his most precious gift, considering it a privilege to be here to do so.

I have said for years on the air that the Gift of Life Marathon is a great big party — one at which lives just happen to be saved. It is a marvelous day, full of good will, good food — and even a great big bag full of lovely parting gifts. You won’t attend a better party this holiday season. 

I’ve made my appointment. You can make yours by calling 1-800-REDCROSS. See you Dec. 17.




Good way to get involved

November 07,2013

When I moved from Florida to Rutland last year, I wanted to get involved with the many community programs the city had to offer. One of the best was the Gift of Life Marathon. 

The commitment from the people in Rutland and surrounding neighborhoods was only surpassed by the pace of the volunteers during the blood drive. I’m excited to participate in this year’s Gift of Life Marathon on Dec. 17. Sign up and help Rutland surpass our goal.




Betterment of others

On Dec. 17 the Rutland Area will again host the Gift of Life Marathon. This represents what is so good about the Rutland community, the willingness to give of oneself for the betterment of others. 

The need for blood at the holiday season is so important. The chance to give a little of your time to donate to potentially save a life is in the spirit of the Rutland community. I urge you to consider donating blood to make a difference in your community and beyond. This drive is again looking to set a record for donors, sign up today by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS to make an appointment. Be part of making Rutland an example for others to follow.


(Police chief)




A blood donation can be life giving, having an impact far beyond the immediate benefit to the recipient. Fifteen years ago, I received several pints of blood after a drunk driver crashed into

our car putting me in critical condition with multiple injuries. Hemorrhaging internally, I was close to “bleeding out” by the time I reached the Emergency Room. (I have been told that I am alive by the benefit of “20 minutes and ¼ of an inch”.) Transfusions to replace the blood lost to torn joints, lacerated organs, and subsequent surgeries, was a significant element of my survival.

When you donate blood, it is hard to imagine the impact that your gift will have on other people. In my case, the gifts I received, blood donations being one among the many kindnesses I accepted from strangers, motivated me to focus my energies on being a positive force in my community. It is my hope that some of the work I have been involved with in the years since the crash has benefited the lives of others in ways that mirror the impact that so many strangers had on mine. 

A pint of blood can make a world of difference on one life; and can have far reaching benefits to an entire community. Please think about the immense possibilities your gift can bring when you give blood at the upcoming Gift Of Life Marathon on December 17, 2013. It’s not just about breaking the national record, although that is an admirable community goal. In my book, giving blood is about helping individuals in need, while potentially having a positive impact on everyone around you. 

Please call 800-RED-CROSS or visit to make your appointment today.



Andrea Liebenow Varney, Rutland County

Putting Rutland on the map

I have been involved in our community over the past year working with many talented and committed people to make Rutland the best it can be. I have been a part of Project VISION which is a city and community initiate to reduce substance abuse and crime. I have witnessed the amazing community spirit that has been building over the last year and continues to grow. People from many different sectors are bringing an energy to Rutland that has not been felt to this degree in a long time. Just last week, I saw a sign in a downtown storefront that said “I believe in Rutland.” Positive energy is contagious and inspiring. It motivates people to get involved. People generally want to be involved in doing good things because there is a great level of satisfaction in return. Often, it is better to give than receive because you tend to feel happier when you give to others. 

Over the last few months, I have been learning more about the Gift of Life Marathon that has been occurring in Rutland for many years. I must have been living under a rock because I just recently learned that during the last Gift of Life Marathon the Rutland community missed the national record by only 13 pints. I could not believe that we came that close but just missed the national record. I have been reading in the newspaper about the upcoming Marathon attempt at the national record on Dec. 17. I have never donated blood before, and quite frankly I was a little nervous to do so in the past. After reading that we missed the record by such a narrow margin, I decided that I must be a part of this great community event and donate blood for the first time. I made my appointment today because, like the sign in the storefront, I believe in Rutland. By donating blood, not only are we saving the lives of others, we are displaying to the nation that Rutland is a great place with great people who are committed to making a difference and helping others.




Take one step to save a life

October 23,2013 

As we announced plans last week to break the national blood drive record at the Gift-of-Life Marathon, I was reminded of one of my favorite childhood fables, “The Crow and the Pitcher.”

In announcing our plans, Terry Jaye, Mayor Louras and I spoke about the incredible spirit in Rutland, evidenced by how the community rallies when the chips are down. From the Nor’icane in 2007 to Tropical Storm Irene, from food drives to the recent Dancing with the Rutland Stars, when nearly 1,000 people united to support disabled children, the Rutland area exhibits an uncommon spirit and sense of community. 

That spirit is what helped the Gift-of-Life Marathon set three New England records, and hold two of the three largest blood drives in U.S. history. Think about that — Rutland has held two of the three largest blood drives this country has ever seen — and the largest one per capita. 

“The Crow and the Pitcher,” one of Aesop’s fables, always struck a chord with me. I love birds of all kinds, and the story features one of the smartest birds and a simple but powerful message. 

The story goes: “A crow, half-dead with thirst, came upon a pitcher, which had once been full of water; but when the crow put its beak into the pitcher, he found that very little water was left in it, and that he could not reach far enough down to get at it. He tried, and he tried, but at last had to give up in despair.

“Then a thought came to him, and he took a pebble and dropped it into the pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped it into the pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the pitcher. 

“At last, he saw the water rise up near him, and after casting in a few more pebbles, he was able to quench his thirst and save his life.”

There are literally thousands of things that have to happen to make the blood drive a success: Dozens of businesses have to support the effort through donations, in-kind assistance and advertising support. Hundreds of volunteers must ensure a smooth, fun process. Hundreds of Red Cross workers have to provide a professional, calming atmosphere as they draw blood. And nearly 2,000 people, from 16-year-olds donating for the first time to senior citizens who have donated gallons throughout their lifetime, have to sign up, roll up their sleeves and give, literally, of themselves.

The moral of the “The Crow and the Pitcher” and the Gift-of-Life Marathon is one and the same: “Little by little does the trick.”

To sign up for the blood drive, call 800-RED-CROSS, or visit www.giftoflifemarathon for information on volunteering. If each of us taps into the spirit of the greater Rutland community and takes one little step, we’ll not only break the record, we’ll crush it.

Steve Costello, a Green Mountain Power vice president, is co-organizer of the Gift-of-Life Marathon with WJJR’s Terry Jaye.





Gift-of-Life Marathon History


Gift-of-Life Marathon began thanks to a serious problem: a lack of blood donors around the major winter holidays. Back in 2003, the Red Cross approached folks at Central Vermont Public Service, and asked if they would be willing to add a third employee blood drive due to a critical blood shortage.

Instead, CVPS proposed organization of a public mega-drive, and partnered with WJJR to promote it. The Gift-of-Life Marathon was born! 

The GOLM collected 368 pints that first year, and has grown steadily ever since. For three straight years, the GOLM broke the New England record for a one-day community blood drive. Boston held the record of 772 pints until Rutland collected 856 in 2008 and 1,024 in 2009.

In September 2010, Boston collected 1,177 pints to reclaim the New England record, but Rutland took it back in December, with 1,400 pints. Manchester, N.H., broke that record – and the national record – in August 2011, with 1,968 pints.

In 2011, Rutland collected 1,753 pints, and in 2012, Rutland collected 1,955 pints! For a little perspective, that puts Rutland in second place all-time, beating the former record of 1,835 held by the St. Louis Cardinals and the University of Missouri, but a little short of the existing record of 1,968 held by Manchester, N.H.