Gift-of-Life Marathon in Rutland reclaims New England blood drive record

first_imgDisplaying a spirit and commitment greater than communities 30 times its size, the greater Rutland area turned out in force Tuesday and reclaimed the New England single-day blood drive record at the Gift-of-Life Marathon.‘After last year, we knew just about anything was possible, but this is absolutely amazing,’ said CVPS spokesman Steve Costello, one of the organizers. ‘Rutland County should be enormously proud. We beat Boston, and we beat Boston handily!’Boston, which held the record of 772 pints until Rutland collected 856 in 2008 and 1,024 in 2009, collected 1,177 pints Sept. 11 at Fenway Park, retaking the record from Rutland. GOLM organizers immediately vowed to reclaim the record, and local residents did just that ‘ collecting 1,393 pints on Tuesday.‘I continue to be amazed by the people of this area,’ said WJJR program manager Terry Jaye. ‘Someday we may set a goal that is unattainable, but the community spirit we witnessed today makes that seem unlikely to happen anytime soon.’The eighth annual event, which was organized and sponsored by WJJR and CVPS in collaboration with the American Red Cross, collected 368 pints in 2003. It has grown steadily ever since.Residents from across Rutland County ‘ and a few dozen from across Vermont and a few from New York and New Hampshire ‘ streamed into the Paramount Theatre throughout the day. Many came with loved ones, co-workers, teammates or friends. Thanks to a live broadcast on WJJR, hundreds of gift bags filled with items from local businesses and a collective but fun-loving focus on the record, donors enjoyed a block-party atmosphere.‘I’ve been to hundreds of blood drives throughout my career, but I’ve never seen anything like the energy, commitment and strength I witnessed today,’ said Amor Ostojic, a Red Cross account representative. ‘You could feel the energy as soon as you walked in the building ‘ a palpable feeling of goodwill and togetherness. I’ve never felt anything like it.’Local residents will be reminded of Tuesday’s record-setting drive every time they see Jaye, Ostojic, Costello or Mayor Chris Louras between now and June 21. The quartet pledged to grow beards for six months if Rutland County reclaimed the record, and some of them even started early to give donors a preview of things to come.Ostojic said the GOLM would ensure an adequate blood supply in the region through the holidays, when supplies normally plummet. Costello said while that was the main purpose of the Gift-of-Life Marathon, it has also morphed into something else.‘This is an answer for anyone who thinks Rutland has a bleak future,’ Costello said. ‘It’s become an annual a reminder that we’ve overcome long odds before, and we can do it again and again. When the GOLM ends each year, I think of all the lives that will be changed by the blood donors, and how this event is slowly changing the way many people think about our community.’last_img

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