Katie Gerstenberger’s fight against cancer has brought forth an island-wide wave of support for the Puget Sound Blood Center. “A personal call was put out to our church community,” Maribeth Hinderer, a close friend of the Gerstenberger family, told the Review this week, “and it has now grown into a community call.”
Last October, 12 -year-old Katie entered Children’s Hospital for treatment of a tumor that turned out to be an extremely rare adrenal corticol carcinoma. She underwent multiple rounds of chemotherapy; treatment culminated three weeks ago with a difficult 18-hour operation to remove the tumor. The surgery required 30 units of type O negative blood, which nearly drained the Puget Sound Blood Center’s supply.
To honor the recovering Katie and replenish the blood center, Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church will host a blood drive on March 30. And is there anything more precious to give? While blood drives are certainly nothing new, a community vein-tapping that honors a specific individual is an effective angle. Not that the honoree gets the blood – that goes into the bank for whoever needs it – but it is a good way to mobilize local reserves. A recent blood drive honoring an Eagle Harbor Congregational Church member who’s battling cancer brought out more than 100 donors – most from outside the congregation, and a third of them first-time givers.
Islander Ann Lovejoy, a long-time blood drive coordinator, says that at any given time there’s only a two- or three-day blood supply regionwide, which is why it’s so exciting to turn out new givers. She cited a recent drive at the high school in which a diminutive student showed up wearing heavy boots, just to make sure she could hit the 110-pound weight threshold for donors. That’s giving of yourself.
Community response to the Katie Gerstenberger drive already has been significant. “It’s like this community has gone crazy,” Maribeth told the Review. “Everyone’s really jumped on it.”
The blood drive will take place at Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church from 12 to 6 p.m. March 30. For an appointment (strongly recommended), call organizer Dorry Jones at 780-1773. The blood center will accept all blood types.
When Katie went into the hospital, her family was overwhelmed by requests from well-wishers who wanted to help but weren’t sure how. Now they have a chance. “This isn’t just asking for money,” Maribeth says. “This is one of those concrete things where people feel like they can do something.”
Second to none
It says something about the lofty expectations of the team that Bainbridge’s second-place finish at last week’s 3A state boys basketball tournament might feel like a letdown.
We think it’s pretty darn fine.
The Spartans battled with honor on the court, and the countless fans who crossed the water in support rallied with both spirit and decorum throughout the four-day tournament at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. Such was the partisan Bainbridge throng at Saturday’s final that one Seattleite marveled, “Dang, the whole island’s here!” It sure sounded like it.
The tournament’s final moments were bittersweet, and it’s hard to believe the heady rush of the campaign is really over. But we’ll take a second-place finish at state any year – any year – and we celebrate this one.