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Rutland’s all-out effort

GOLM organizers focus on national blood drive record

RUTLAND - The Gift-of-Life Marathon will expand to a fifth site, feature double red-cell donations at three locations, and include New York Red Cross workers for the first time when Rutland attempts to break the national one-day blood collection record of 1,968 pints, organizers announced last week.

"Working with the Red Cross, we've tried to give the greater Rutland community the best shot possible," said Steve Costello, a vice president at Green Mountain Power, which co-sponsors the annual event with WJJR.  "We'll have more workers, sites and double red cell machines than ever before - but it will take a huge collective effort to reach what would be a ridiculous goal in any other community of our size."

The drive will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17 at the Paramount Theatre, American Legion, College of St. Joseph, Elks Club and Holiday Inn, which is joining the GOLM effort for the first time.  Double red cell donations may be made at the Elks Club, CSJ or Holiday Inn.

Appointments, which are recommended, may be made by calling 800-RED-CROSS or at www.redcrossblood.org.

Donors must be at least 16, in good health, and show a photo ID or Red Cross donor card. 16-year-olds may donate with parental consent, provided in person at the drive or by a consent form available on the Red Cross website.

"There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that we can do this if we pull together," said Terry Jaye, director of programming at Catamount Radio, which owns WJJR. "We encourage everyone who has come out in the past to sign up, and to try to find one friend, relative, coworker or teammate who will donate as well.  If we work together, we can make history, boost the blood supply around the holidays, and help the Red Cross save hundreds of lives."

Mike Kempesty, CEO of the American Red Cross, Northern New England Blood Services Region, said the drive would include workers from several New England states, and Albany, N.Y. Vermont workers will run the drive at the Paramount, with each of the other sites managed by crews from other states.

"The collaboration between states and districts has been incredible," Kempesty said. "We are committed to helping Rutland break this record, and we are extremely appreciative of the greater Rutland community's dedication to the drive. The GOLM is an inspiration throughout the Red Cross and could not take place without the tremendous support from our leading sponsors and partners, Green Mountain Power and WJJR."

GMP President and CEO Mary Powell said she was amazed by the growth of the GOLM over the years. "There is a spirit and determination in Rutland I've never seen anywhere else," Powell said.  "Whatever the challenges it has faced, from big storms to the GOLM, Rutland has demonstrated pluck and determination time after time."

The GOLM collected 368 pints in its first year, 2003. After setting state and northern New England records several times, the GOLM broke the New England record for a one-day community blood drive in 2008, 2009 and 2010, beating Boston each time.

Manchester, N.H., broke the New England and national record in 2011. The GOLM collected 1,955 pints last year, just 13 shy of tying the record and making it the second-largest one-day drive in the country, the largest per-capita.

Jaye, Costello and Rutland Mayor Chris Louras have pledged to get tattoos commemorating the record if the record is broken.

"Rutland is on the upswing, and setting the record and helping so many families and individuals would make a tremendous statement about the people of this community," Louras said. "I urge everyone who is eligible to get involved and make Dec. 17 a day to remember."