Dozens of friends, classmates and neighbors braved bitter temperatures and falling snow to participate in a recent blood drive to help a Maine South High School student replenish a blood bank's supply.
Dubbed "Jimmy's Blood Drive," the effort to boost LifeSource's supply was held Feb. 1 at South Park Church, 1330 Courtland Ave., Park Ridge. While most came out to help Jimmy Rancich, a 17-year-old Maine South student who is battling NK / T Cell Lymphoma, donations at the drive will help many people. LifeSource's inventory is down approximately 30 percent because of bad weather conditions this year, according to LifeSource collection supervisor Barbara Hansen.
LifeSource employees had an hour to set up their stations -- 12 chairs in the donor area and 6 screening stations -- before residents lined up at 8 a.m. to donate. Once the donation site was open, potential donors spent a few minutes being screened to ensure they were eligible to donate. Those who were deemed eligible gave a pint of blood each.
Michael Gable, 17, who played baseball with Jimmy Rancich at Maine South, said he came to donate with his father Mike after hearing about the drive at school.
"I've never donated before, but it's a great cause," Gable said.
Joe Rancich, father of Jimmy, said that he was happy with the turn-out. He stressed that the drive was not only for his son.
"Doing this is awesome because you are helping a lot of people," Rancich said. He said that his son Jimmy would have loved to be at the blood drive but was recovering from a bone marrow transplant that he underwent a few days before at the University of Chicago Hospital.
The elder Rancich said that his son was diagnosed with NK / T Cell Lymphoma in the summer. Despite the aggressive nature of his cancer, Jimmy has an "awesome outlook and faith in God," Joe Rancich said.
About four weeks prior to his bone marrow transplant, a bone-marrow drive was set up and 300 locals showed up to donate in Jimmy's name, Joe Rancich said. After learning that Jimmy may need blood and that LifeSource's supply was low, Rancich said his wife Helen came up with the idea to hold a blood drive. Space was donated by South Park Church, where Jimmy attends Bible study classes, and family friend Diane Lacopulos helped to organize the drive.
Lacopulos said the drive was "basically put together in a week," and that Maine South High School helped spread the word via an "e-mail blast."
Looking out at the snow that was coming down steadily and seeing residents lined up to be screened, Lacopolus said she was proud of her Park Ridge neighbors.
"Despite the fact that the weather is against us, I think the community is definitely with us," Lacopulos said.