“It’s a good way to meet girls.”
Blood donor John Adams jokes about his early blood drive experiences. It was the late 1960s and John was a senior at the University of Vermont in Burlington. On a cold spring day in March 1969, John’s fraternity encouraged him to attend a blood drive at the school. He had donated before – but this time it would change his life forever.
“I was escorted to a cot. I waited a few minutes and I saw a girl sitting next to me. It was funny in that, gosh, she was all dolled up. She had a hairdo with her hair all piled on top of her head, which was part of the style back then,” John said.
The two started talking and he learned the young woman’s name was Betsey. She had just come from taking her senior photo for the university yearbook. Despite a few mutual friends, their paths had never crossed before rolling up their sleeves on side-by-side cots at this American Red Cross blood drive.
“She was in early childhood education, and I was in engineering. And we had just never met,” he remembered.
The pair continued to chat as their blood was drawn. Not wanting to end the conversation, they made their way to the post-donation snack area where a table was filled with sandwiches.
“I dug in and had several more while we talked,” John said.
They enjoyed each other’s company so much that the next day John called to ask Betsey out. They arranged to study together in the library. One date turned into several, and soon they were talking about the future.
“We had a lot in common. We liked each other and we got along fine. One thing led to another. First, we had to finish school and then we got married! That was 52 or 53 years ago – and we’re still here,” John said.
He credits that Red Cross blood drive with connecting him to the love of his life.
“It certainly did – and we’re still very much in love. And here we are – an old couple now. We had two kids and three grandchildren. Our kids give blood too. Not the grandkids yet, but we’re going to try to keep it in the family.”
For 40 years, John and Betsey ran a family business in White River Junction – always side-by-side, just like the first day they met.
“We worked together every day. Came home every day together. Never fought,” he said lovingly.
Over the years, life got busy, and the couple got away from blood donation. Then one day the world was confronted with a global pandemic. John decided it was time to commit to regular donation once again.
“COVID came along,” he said, “I just figured that it was something I could do to volunteer and hopefully help.”
Since 2020, the Hartland man has donated more than two gallons of lifesaving blood to patients in need. Although his wife’s weight dipped below the donor eligibility requirements and she’s not able to give, Betsey continues to support her husband.
“I come home afterwards, and I milk it and say, ‘You can wait on me for a little while.’ Sometimes that works,” John laughed.
Might you meet your true love at a Red Cross blood drive? Or perhaps you’re looking for a meaningful way to spend quality time with your special person while helping those in need. Every two seconds someone in this country needs blood. In fact, one in seven patients entering the hospital will need a blood transfusion – yet only three percent of Americans donate. Generous volunteer donors, like John, are the only source of lifesaving blood. Will you consider giving the gift of life this Valentine’s Day?
“I particularly like to see when it goes to a children’s hospital,” John said. “It’s really a positive experience. I recommend that anyone who can give – and is able to – give it a try. Yes, it’s a few hours out of your day, but it’s a good feeling knowing that you’ve helped somebody.”
For more information on blood donation opportunities near you, visit redcrossblood.org