American Red Cross /Wes Leonard Heart Team, first Annual “ In Memory Of” blood drive for Wes Leonard – American Red Cross donates 60th AED to the Heart Team
Fennville Michigan – For me it used to be a small village I
passed through on my way to Saugatuck.
But that all changed nine years ago when I was assigned Allegan County
as the American Red Cross Blood Donor Representative.
Since then, I have been organizing blood drives at the high
school and at various places throughout the Fennville community. I proudly handed out scholarships at the
high school awards night, and worked with the Lions Club until they disbanded
More importantly, I got to know the spirit of Fennville and
its people – this is truly a close knit, ‘can do’ community.
Then a little over a year ago, tragedy struck and I stood in
disbelief before my TV, watching as the
story of Wes Leonard began to unfold.
Since I feel so connected to the youth in the communities I serve, my
immediate response was – “That’s MY school” and I immediately felt the need to do something to
help ease that pain and be a part of the healing process. At the time I didn’t know how that would
look, but I knew I wanted to be a part of it in some way.
I personally know the pain of that loss as my son lost his
best friend about 20 years ago. While
the pain eases over time, one never really completely gets over a loss of this type, and
so the slogan, “Never Forgotten” rang true for me in a very personal way.
I felt it an honor to be a part of an event, like the recent
Red Cross blood drive that honored Wes’ memory while paying it forward so that
others could live. When I contacted
Maria Flores about a possible partnership with the American Red Cross, I
received a resounding “Yes, the Heart Team would love to be a part of this kind
of partnership”. That was several
months ago when the snow was still flying so that gave us ample time to plan
a Blood Drive in memory of Wes for June
Fennville has always held a special place in my heart as the
leaders, local businesses and residents have always had open arms to assist me
in any way they could in support of the local blood drives, but I was
unprepared for the support that was to come.
My background in special events had armed me with the logistical
preparedness to host a successful event, but it also prepared me for the
eventualities that inevitably arise when doing an event of this magnitude. The response from the people was always one
of “How can I help?” During those
moments of the mini-crises that appeared, there were so many that helped in so
many ways that I hesitate to begin naming names as I would most likely leave
someone out. Local officials, the school administration, the high
school principal, teachers, and students, the fire and police departments, and
the Fennville merchants and, of course, the Heart Team and the Leonards, all
played an integral part in assisting me to make this happen.
So, you may be asking, what was the outcome of this blood
drive in memory of Wes? The statistics
below will reveal the true outpouring of support to help “Pay it Forward” with
the combined efforts of the Wes Leonard Heart Team, The American Red Cross, and
Be The Match organization.
- Pints of blood collected: 142, which will go to
approximately 425 different recipients
- Number signed up for Bone Marrow Registry: 45
- Number of donors who signed up for the next blood drive on
July 30th: 75
In addition, the American Red Cross donated the 60th
AED to the Heart Team to be given to a school on their ever growing list of
The disaster services of the American Red Cross also had
demos for Citizen CPR, and displayed the servies provided to your community during times of
crisis to help residents get back on their feet.
A press conference was held to help promote the awareness of
the need for working AED’s in all schools,
the constant need for blood, and the need for bone marrow donors.
The 2nd Annual blood drive in memory of Wes
Leonard is being planned as we speak, and it is with a grateful heart that I
send out my sincere thanks to a community that rallied behind a worthwhile
cause , and to me, an outsider, who you all made to feel a part of your close knit community.
American Red Cross
Donor Recruitment Representative
PS: Since the June 1,
2012 blood drive, the Red Cross was called to the Fennville community to offer
their assistance during a business fire.
Most recently, your mayor expressed his thanks to the
American Red Cross for bringing the father of his grandsons to the States
during their recent tragic loss. This is
a very little known service that the Red Cross provides, but an important one
for those serving our country and their families.