The American Red Cross, The Gift-of-Life and their sponsors are
hosting a mini-marathon blood drive this Tuesday, July 17 at the
Paramount Theatre in Rutland from 12-noon to 6 p.m.
The Gift-of-Life organization is hoping this summer event will
help remedy the shortage of donated blood the region often
experiences this time of year. Carol Dembeck of the Red Cross
explains,"The need doesn't go away just because so many of us are
traveling," she said in a press release. "Our hope is that the
Gift-of-Life Summer Mini Marathon will help fill the void we face
in the coming weeks. This summer period is second only to Christmas
week in terms of need."
This event is a spin off of the immensely popular Gift-of-Life
Marathon which is held later in the year. This December the event
will be in its tenth year and it just might break the national
record for donated blood in one day. Last year's hugely successful
event saw Rutland fall just short of the national record of 1,968
pints donated, set by neighboring Manchester, NH. However, the
1,855 pints that were donated in Rutland earned the record for the
greatest per-capita blood donation in the history of the United
"It was an extraordinary day and an amazing display of community
spirit and determination," said organizer Steve Costello.
Steve Costello was involved in employee-based blood drives at
Central Vermont Public Service (CVPS) when the company was
approached by the Red Cross to try something to combat the shortage
of blood during the holidays. Steve and CVPS opted to launch a
major public drive, and The Gift-of-Life Marathon was born in
December of 2003. There were no great expectations at first, but
local, state and regional records quickly began to fall and the
Marathon has been raising the bar for donations every year since.
It has become such a powerful story of community activism that a
New York filmmaker featured it in his documentary "The Blood in
This Town." In 2010 Steve was honored in Washington with the
highest honor given by the National Red Cross- the Presidential
Excellence Award. The Red Cross depends on its many dedicated
volunteers and Costello was recognized for going above and beyond.
He said of the award, "Obviously, I'm very pleased about it and I
think it says a lot about Rutland. But I really believe this is an
award for this entire community and everyone involved in it. This
isn't a one man show. Believe me it is a huge endeavor that takes
hundreds and hundreds of people to pull it off and everyone of them
shares in it." For this mini marathon event, CVPS/Green Mountain
Power is joined by local radio station WJJR, Long Trail Brewery and
Jay Peak Resort as sponsors, among others and the many Red Cross
"Any first-time donor we would encourage to come out and give it
a try whether they are 16 or 60. Once people try it they usually
learn it's not that big of a deal. It's not a difficult thing. It's
painless, virtually. And once people try it once they tend to come
back over and over," said Steve Costello. This is actually the
first time a Gift-of-Life Marathon can accept donations from people
16 or older, with parental permission, thanks to a new state law.
This should help organizers reach their goal of 450 pints. That
number may sound low when compared to the impressive numbers
reached in the winter drives, but this is the first year a summer
event is sponsored and many people are out of town on vacation.
This is why it is important to donate blood this summer if you are
For information on eligibility and restrictions, please go to
redcrossblood.org. It is requested that people who intend to donate
blood during the event sign up ahead of time by calling