By Christine Welch, American Red Cross
Motivated, determined and caring are a few words to describe 17-year-old Tabitha Finamore.
After learning that her 7-year-old cousin, Quincy, was diagnosed with leukemia and needed blood products, Tabitha looked for ways to help cancer warriors like Quincy. For those undergoing chemotherapy treatments, a blood transfusion might give them relief from some symptoms and improve their quality of life. Many may not realize that cancer patients use nearly one-fourth of the blood supply – more than patients fighting any other disease. While Quincy was undergoing treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic, Tabitha ran into challenges finding a location to host a blood drive as many campuses were closed to outside activities.
Undeterred, Tabitha researched additional options, approached local school district officials and received permission to host a blood drive in honor of childhood cancer warriors at her former grade school, Villa Park Elementary. The blood drive took on additional meaning as Tabitha learned that there was a young student at the elementary school fighting cancer.
With just a few weeks of planning, Tabitha recruited friends, family, former teachers and community members to roll up a sleeve. Tabitha and her mother, Kim (pictured here) were on-site to personally greet and thank each blood donor.
At the blood drive, Tabitha learned that she was eligible to donate and also became a first-time blood donor. She also learned that previous blood donation deferrals for her family members which had spent time U.K., Ireland and France between 1980 and 2001 due to vCJD were updated, and they look forward to donating in the future.
"I am so thankful for the Red Cross for making my dream possible and allowing my community to come together to make a difference," shared Tabitha.
Thanks to the great response from the community and support of Tabitha, the blood drive collected 46 units achieving 131% of the goal.
In addition to her academic and performing arts pursuits, Tabitha can now proudly add Blood Drive Program Leader and blood donor advocate to her long list of achievements.