Rutland Community Poised to Set New Record
With more than 2,000 people signed up to donate, a small Vermont community is gearing up to take a run at a huge national record. Organizers of the Gift-of-Life Marathon, set for Tuesday in Rutland, aim to collect at least 1,969 pints of blood – a collection that would outdo New York City, Boston, Los Angeles and Manchester, N.H., which holds the current record of 1,968 pints collected in a single day.
“Despite the number of appointments, we are taking nothing for granted,” said Green Mountain Power Vice President Steve Costello, one of the organizers. “There are too many variables in an event like this to prematurely claim victory. People can get sick, emergencies come up, and weather can affect turnout, so we’ll keep pushing ahead until we know the blood and record are in the bag, literally.”
The annual Gift-of-Life Marathon has become a holiday phenomenon over the last 10 years, inspiring a documentary film, “The Blood in This Town,” breaking New England records three times, and recording the second- and third-largest blood collections in American history.
“It’s shocking to me that a community of less than 16,000 people has done what we have done over the past few years, but I don’t think there are many places with the heart and soul that lives here,” said WJJR program manager Terry Jaye. “That being said, we haven’t done a thing yet in 2013 – we still have nearly 2,000 pints to collect!”
Castleton College President Dave Wolk, who signed on as the third sponsor of the event this year, along with WJJR and GMP, also sounded a cautionary note as organizers make final preparations. “The drive came within 13 pints of the national record last year, so we know what disappointment feels like, as if 1,955 was anything to be disappointed about,” Wolk said.
Wolk will be driving a shuttle between the college and blood donation sites, carrying students, faculty and staff, and he will pick up anyone else in the region who wants a ride. Anyone who needs a ride to the blood drive may call 802-468-1202 by 4:30 p.m. Tuesday to schedule a pickup. If Wolk is fully booked, Castleton Dean of Students Dennis Proulx will drive another van to provide chauffer service.
While most appointment slots are filled, organizers said walk-ins remain critical to the drive. Some people could be prevented from attending due to unforeseen circumstances. Organizers urged anyone who has an appointment and can’t make it to call 800-RED-CROSS to cancel, so someone else can use it. Donors must bring a photo ID or Red Cross donor card, and if 16, must bring a parent or guardian, or a signed parental consent form available at redcrossblood.org.
The Gift-of-Life Marathon, which includes donation sites at the Paramount Theatre, College of St. Joseph, American Legion, Elks Club and Holiday Inn, is organized by Castleton College, WJJR and GMP, with lead support from the Paramount Theatre and Small Dog Electronics.