Gift of Life Marathon Organizers Announce Summer Spinoff
Organizers of Rutland's annual Gift-of-Life Marathon are planning a new summer mini-marathon, aimed at boosting regional blood supplies cut short by donor travel and vacations.
"The Gift-of-Life Summer Mini Marathon is being created for the same reason as the original GOLM: an annual blood shortage," said Central Vermont Public Service spokesman Steve Costello, one of the organizers. "Our goal of 450 pints will be modest compared to the GOLM's recent production, but the summer months bring real challenges for blood collection. Our hope is to capture some of the feeling of the GOLM, on a level akin to the early years of the event, and ensure an adequate blood supply in July."
The Gift-of-Life Summer Mini Marathon will be held Tuesday, July 17, from noon to 6 p.m., at the Paramount Theatre. Appointments, which are strongly suggested, can be made by calling 800-RED-CROSS. The event is sponsored by CVPS and WJJR, with support from the Paramount Theatre and Long Trail Brewing Company. Donors will receive a special Long Trail-Red Cross pint glass.
Sixteen-year-olds are now eligible to donate blood in Vermont. Parents may accompany their children to the drive and sign the form there, or can go online, print and sign the form, and 16-year-olds can bring the signed document to the blood drive. The consent form is available at http://www.redcrossblood.org/students/sixteen/nne.
"Next to Christmas week, mid-summer is the toughest time of the year for blood collections," Red Cross spokeswoman Carol Dembeck said. "The need doesn't go away just because so many of us are traveling. Newborns and new mothers, cancer patients, accident victims and people with blood disorders still need transfusions and blood products during the summer. Our hope is that the Gift-of-Life Summer Mini Marathon will help fill the void we face in the coming weeks."
WJJR Program Director Terry Jaye said he hoped the Summer Mini Marathon would not only boost summer blood supplies, but begin to build anticipation for December's GOLM, which will be the 10th annual event. Organizers are still contemplating another shot at the national record in December, but don't expect to make a decision on this year's goal until early fall.
"We came so close last year, and I would love another shot at the record," Jaye said. "Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, there are some improvements we could make to get people through more quickly, and with 16-year-olds now eligible to donate blood for the first time, we have a larger pool of potential donors."
Mary Powell, president and CEO of Green Mountain Power, which pending regulatory approval is expected to merge with CVPS later this spring, said the new GMP would continue to sponsor the summer event and the GOLM in the years ahead. "The Gift-of-Life Marathon is such a special event in Rutland, and we are excited about building on what CVPS and WJJR have created with the Red Cross and the community," Powell said. "We are committed to maintaining CVPS's community programs, including the GOLM and the new Summer Mini Marathon."
The GOLM began in 2003, when 368 pints were collected. The event broke the one-day New England community blood drive record in 2008, 2009 and 2010. In 2011, Manchester, N.H., broke the New England and national records with 1,968 pints, while Rutland collected 1,855 pints at the GOLM last December, the second-largest community blood collection in U.S. history.