Blood donors rolled up their sleeves in honor of those who lost their lives 15 years ago in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 at the Jersey City Police and Fire 9/11 Memorial Blood Drive on September 12 at the Hyatt Regency Jersey City on the Hudson.
Members of the Jersey City Police and Fire Departments, community members, as well as friends and family of those lost on September 11, donated blood to mark the occasion while giving back to the community. The drive, which was sponsored by Suburban Propane, collected 183 units of blood.
“Inside the tragic events of September 11, there are personal and collective stories of self-sacrifice, inspiration and heroism,” said Ana Montero, CEO, American Red Cross New Jersey Region. “When I think about how we honor the memory of those who sacrificed for others, I think we can do it by honoring forward. We are grateful to all of the blood donors who are honoring forward here today and helping to save lives.”
Among the blood donors was Barbara Gorman of Whitehouse Station who donated in honor of her late husband Tom. An officer with the Port Authority Emergency Services Unit working out of the Journal Square PATH station in Jersey City, Tom and fellow officers rushed over to the World Trade Center in New York City to help rescue the thousands of people in the twin towers. It is believed Tom was lost when the South Tower collapsed.
“Throughout his life, my husband Tom was dedicated to saving lives as a police officer, as a firefighter and as a blood donor,” Barbara shared at a ceremony during the blood drive. “Donating blood was something he did naturally, believing in the importance of the act and what it could mean for others.”
Tom was an avid blood donor. Several times a year, he would roll up his sleeve to donate blood. Over the years Tom donated gallons, making his final blood donation on September 10, the day before the terrorist attacks.
“Tom would be proud. Our three children have embraced their father’s devotion to helping others by regularly donating blood and encouraging others to do the same,” she said.
Barbara recalled the Red Cross volunteers who were stationed at Liberty State Park in Jersey City for weeks following the terrorist attacks to help care for New Jersey families as they made their way to the family assistance center in New York.
“Years later, the Red Cross continues to be with us,” Barbara said. “Yesterday, they were there again as they have been each year, greeting New Jersey families in Liberty State Park who are heading over to Manhattan for the 9/11 commemoration ceremony. Whether it’s a cup of coffee, a tissue, or a smiling face, it means a great deal for us to know how much you care. Thank you.”
Blood donation also holds a special significance for Christie Combs of Massachusetts who lost her husband, Jeff, on September 11. Jeff was a passenger on American Airlines Flight 11 that crashed into the World Trade Center.
When Jeff was alive, he and Christie donated blood together at the Red Cross. On occasion, the couple would bring their children to the blood donation center to teach them about the importance of donating blood to help patients in need.
“I thank you all so very much for remembering all those we lost and commemorating the anniversary in a way that helps others in need,” Christie told guests and blood donors during the ceremony. “Your support means the world to me and all the September 11 families.”
Lonnie Henderson, a recruit for the Jersey City Fire Department, was one of several recruits who donated at the blood drive.
“The blood drive was announced during today's class,” said Lonnie. “When they asked if we wanted to donate, I said, ‘Yes - anything to help!’"
With September being National Preparedness Month, Red Cross volunteers at the event helped educate blood donors about the importance of preparedness. All presenting donors received a deluxe personal safety emergency pack, courtesy of Suburban Propane.
“To the Jersey City police and firefighters, thank you for your sacrifices and service and for your help in protecting our communities, said Michael A. Stivala, president and CEO, Suburban Propane. “To the American Red Cross, thank you for your dedicated, tireless and selfless devotion to always being there in times of need; and to the many blood donors who will have been through here today, thank you for giving the gift of life to those in need.”
HOW TO DONATE BLOOD Download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
Blood donors can now save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, prior to arriving at the blood drive. To get started and learn more, visit redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.