SPRING HILL, Tenn. — The American Red Cross and Allendale Elementary PTO are teaming up to host a postponement blood drive in honor of 10-year-old Rebecca Gardner, an Allendale Elementary student fearlessly battling cancer. The drive is Wednesday, July 27, from noon to 5 p.m. at Allendale Elementary, 2100 Prescott Way in Spring Hill.
All presenting donors will receive special access to purchase discounted tickets to 10 Cedar Fair theme parks across the U.S. Cedar Fair will donate $2 from each discounted ticket purchase back to the Red Cross to support its humanitarian mission.
A previously scheduled drive hosted in Rebecca’s honor was canceled early due to inclement weather in March. Yet, in nearly two hours, 30 pints of lifesaving blood were collected before the drive was forced to end.
“To see the number of generous donors who came out to give blood in honor of Rebecca despite threatening weather, is a true testament to the impact she has on the community at large,” said Garry Allison, director of donor recruitment, American Red Cross Tennessee Valley Blood Services Region. “She’s what we like to call a ‘Pint-Size Hero’.”
In July 2013, Rebecca was diagnosed with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS), a rare form of pediatric cancer. After 54 weeks of treatment, she was declared cancer-free. While she remained healthy for nine months, Rebecca relapsed in June 2015. After completing relapse protocol in March 2016, Rebecca was diagnosed with leukemia as a secondary cancer, brought on by previous treatments.
"It's amazing how much she still does, with all the treatment she has had to go through," said Jackie Gardner, Rebecca's mother. "We had to stop gymnastics when she started chemo again for leukemia, but she swims a lot, hangs out with friends and tries to be as normal as possible. She doesn't want cancer to define her."
Over the course of her treatments, Rebecca has received 30 to 40 blood and platelet transfusions. Gardner is grateful that all the blood products Rebecca needs have always been readily available, and she encourages the Spring Hill community to roll up a sleeve to help ensure that patients like Rebecca have similar experiences.
"We like to have this blood drive every year, just to make sure everybody is aware of how easy it is to donate blood,” Gardner said. “It doesn't take much of your time at all, and it’s rewarding to know you helped save lives, just by donating your blood. Cancer patients don't have that privilege. That's why they need our blood."
To date, the annual Allendale Elementary PTO blood drive in honor of Rebecca Gardner has collected over 150 pints of blood, potentially helping to save up to 450 lives. This drive comes at an important time when the Red Cross is issuing an emergency call for donors to give now to help address a significant blood shortage and ensure area patients receive the transfusions they need.
"It's a scary thought to think there's not enough blood," Gardner said.
Right now, blood products are being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in. Every two seconds in the United States blood and platelets are needed to respond to patient emergencies, including accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease. The Red Cross must collect approximately 14,000 blood and platelet donations every day for the patients at about 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers nationwide.
Allendale Elementary PTO Blood Drive in Honor of Rebecca Gardner
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Noon to 5 p.m.
Allendale Elementary School
2100 Prescott Way
Spring Hill, TN 37174
How to donate blood
To schedule an appointment, download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org and enter sponsor code: ADES19 or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Walk-ins are welcome.
All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
Blood donors can now save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, prior to arriving at the blood drive. To get started and learn more, visit redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.