Rutland’s Gift-of-Life Marathon blood drive second highest ever nationally


first_imgVermonters of all walks of life turned out for the ninth-annual Gift-of-Life Marathon today, donating 1,855 pints of blood but missing the national one-day community blood drive record of 1,968 pints. ‘It was an extraordinary day and an amazing display of community spirit and determination,’ said Central Vermont Public Service spokesman Steve Costello, one of the organizers.  ‘The national record didn’t fall, but this was the largest per-capita blood drive in US history, the second-largest ever, and the region should be proud of what it accomplished.’ Organizers from CVPS, WJJR and the American Red Cross set their sights on the record within days of it being set, and amped up recruiting to high school and colleges students and residents of the towns surrounding Rutland.  On Tuesday, students and senior citizens, blue and white collar workers and local residents and visitors alike poured into the Paramount Theatre, American Legion Post 31, and the College of St. Joseph gymnasium throughout the day Tuesday for a run at the national mark set this fall in Manchester, NH. Hundreds of Red Cross employees and volunteers from across Rutland County ushered them through the process, fed them a hearty meal, and sent them on their way with gift bags stuffed with dozens of items from local businesses and non-profits. ‘I am so proud of the greater Rutland community,’ said Terry Jaye, program manager at WJJR and Catamount Radio.  ‘We collected around 1,800 pints in a city of about 16,000 people, which says so much about the determination and kinship of the people in this region.’ Jaye’s radio partner, Nanci Gordon, said the event demonstrated strength of character few communities could match. ‘From the businesses that donated 2,500 gift bags items each to the dozens that gave employees time off to donate, provided in-kind donations or helped promote the drive, it took a collaboration of literally hundreds of people to make this happen,’  Gordon said.  ‘The camaraderie and spirit of cooperation demonstrated today is even more important than the goal of breaking the record.’ The Gift-of-Life Marathon began in 2003, when the Red Cross asked CVPS to host a third annual employee blood drive due to shrinking supplies.  CVPS countered with the idea of a mega-drive, and partnered with Jaye, Gordon and WJJR to promote it.  The first drive collected 368 pints; the last three broke the New England record, beating Boston each time.  This year, all five Catamount Radio stations broadcast live from the drive. ‘We never dreamed the drive would become such a rallying post for the community,’ Costello said.  ‘It has become an annual symbol of the good in Rutland and Rutland County, and one of the most collaborative efforts anywhere. CVPS 12.20.2011last_img

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