The day before Valentine's Day, many Burke Centre residents came out to donate blood and help at an annual drive.
To accomodate a full day of donors, American Red Cross workers set up ten screening stations, 12 chairs to get whole blood donations and four chairs to get "double reds" for the 170 pre-registered donors. The Friends of Sadie Committee, which sponsored the Sunday event along with the Burke Centre Conservancy at the Woods Community Center, expected to reach their capacity of 220 donors with walk-in appointments.
The first community blood drive was held last year for little Sadie, who was first diagnosed at three months with neuroblastoma. Erin Morrissey-Lauer, Sadie's mother, said that her daughter, now 19 months old, is doing well. The tumor in her neck was successfully treated with chemotherapy and surgery. She explained that the treatment protocol for children with cancer requires blood tranfusions and that O negative, CMV negative blood, is preferred for infants to prevent complications. Since only seven percent of the population is O negative, it is important to encourage everyone to donate .
"We feel so honored to have the community's support on this day before Valentine's Day," Morrissey-Lauer said. "Traditionally, Valentine's Day has been about chocolate and flowers and we're really trying to make it more about the heart. We're trying to teach our children that it's very important to give to others and for them to be able to see their parents actually giving blood for a good cause."
"We are so very grateful for the outpouring of support and people's willingness to come out on a Sunday," Ethan Lauer, Sadie's father, said.
This year's drive collected over $2,000 to support childhood cancer research through CureSearch and enough blood was donated to save as many as 417 lives, the Friends of Sadie website said.
"Each year we're committed to choosing a different charity to be the recipient of our fundraising," Planning Committee volunteer Amy Dozier said. "We also want to increase awareness about Pediatric Cancer. This year, we chose Cure Search (for Children's Cancer)."
Cure Search is a Foundation that funds research as well as all the doctors who treat 90 percent of child oncology patients.
A raffle and bake sale was held with contributions from many individuals and local businesses. The raffle grand prize was two tickets to every 2011 Redskins home game. Fifty volunteers helped to organize the event, which included supervised children's activities upstairs, doing crafts or playing games. Workers and volunteers were well fed, with donations by Cedar Cafe, Chipotle, Papa John's and Spartan's Family Restaurant. Every child who attended was given a bracelet, a free pizza voucher complements of Jerry's and a personalized name tag, indicating the year when they could be a blood donor.
Kory Bockman, who volunteered for the second year with his wife, said he thought this would be an annual event because there are several other children battling cancer and this blood drive increases awareness among our community.
There is a special need for blood donations at this time of year as 38,000 blood donations are needed every day, nationwide. Blood donations this year are even more imperative, as bad snowstorms early on forced many drives to be canceled. For more information, check out www.friendsofsadie.org