Blood flows in an effort to help

Fremont Elementary School parent Cara Ruyle Wednesday waited calmly in the school auditorium for her turn with the nurse. That a pint of blood would soon be drawn from her body didn’t bother her.

“After you have two kids, no biggie,” Ruyle said.

She has a rare blood type — B negative — that makes donating blood even more important, Ruyle added.

“It is a great way to support a school activity and show my daughter that we are connected to the world, that we are our brother’s keeper,” Ruyle said. “If I can do one little thing that is going to help somebody, why not?”

Wednesday marked Fremont Elementary School’s third annual Red Cross Blood Drive, an event founded in 2009 in honor of former sixth-grade teacher Laura Thornbury, said parent and organizer Jim Schmit. Thornbury died of cancer during the winter break of the 2008-2009 school year.

A popular and dedicated figure on campus, Thornbury worked up until a few weeks before her death, Schmit said.

In its inaugural year, the blood drive attracted 35 donors and 30 useable units of blood, Schmit said.

“It was such a success that first year, the Red Cross asked us to do it again,” Schmit said.

Last year, the event produced similar results. This year, Schmit expected to attract about 40 participants.

“It is a life-giving gesture,” Schmit said. “We ask parents all the time for money and here is something they can do without giving money. I think it is a great organization.”

Red Cross staff members, parents, community members and children crowded the auditorium during the drive, which operated from 1 to 7 p.m. Participants filled out questionnaires while nurses vetted donors to ensure they met the proper criteria.

Donors must be at least 17 years old, weight at least 110 pounds and be in overall good health among other things, said Red Cross nurse Margie Macias. School-sponsored events are among the most successful, she added.

Karine Nersisyan waited nervously to be called forward. It was the first time the Fremont parent had donated blood.

“I have two children who go to school here, so I wanted to be a part of it,” said Nersisyan, who also works as an education assistant at Fremont Elementary.

Principal Christin Walley said that the drive was the result of a dedicated corps of parent volunteers.

“It is a chance to help out the community and show our support for the Red Cross, especially in this time of need with the recent events in Japan,” Walley said.


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