Residents give from the heart

Locals turn out to donate life-saving blood

— What difference a letter makes.

The day of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Ann Evanoff heard on the radio that blood was desperately needed for the victims.

All blood types were needed, the reporter said. Even more so, A-negative blood was in demand because it is such an uncommon blood type, he added.

Evanoff, knowing her blood type was A-negative, tried at once to call blood banks about donating blood.

"I was on the phone until almost 1 in the morning," she said. "It meant so much to me that someone out there might need my blood type and not be getting it."

Evanoff, of Steamboat Springs, had to wait until Tuesday for the chance to finally give blood at the blood drive held at Steamboat Springs Airport.

Blood donors are typically only allowed by appointment only. But Evanoff, like many others on Tuesday afternoon, arrived without an appointment.

Several people were turned away, Evanoff said, but she wasn't leaving without giving blood.

"I told them that if I didn't get to give blood, I was staging a sit-in," she said. "If they didn't let me, I would have driven to Boulder. I would have gone anywhere."

About 300 people turned out to give about 200 units of blood, coordinator Terry Sherrill said.

Sherrill, a member of the Yampa Valley Regional Hospital auxiliary, coordinates the blood drives with Bonfils Blood Bank of the Lowery Center in Aurora.

Appointments were filled two weeks ago, she said, but dozens of walk-ins came anyway. Unfortunately, several of them were turned away, Sherrill said.

"I want to apologize to the people who cared enough to come and give blood but were turned away," she said.

Later in the afternoon, some walk-ins were allowed, she said.

"We were overwhelmed by the number of people who wanted to show their support today," she said.

Phlebotomist Steve Robinson was part of the team from Aurora that took blood all day.

"We've been busy," he said. "The people, they just kept coming."

Pam Van Schaak was one of the many people from whom he drew blood. She explained that making an appointment for every blood drive had become a habit.

This time, however, her appointment held a little more meaning, she said.

"When you have a crisis like this, you've got to do something," Van Schaak said. "This was what I could do to help."

Mike Arroyo showed up Tuesday to give blood for the 39th time in his life.

"It's terrible what happened, but I'm glad to see that so many people are coming out to make something good of it," Arroyo said.

By 7 p.m., the blood drive that started at 12:30 p.m. and was supposed to end by 6 p.m. was still only beginning to wrap up.

Donna Starbuck was still waiting for her chance to give blood.

She was the last person, but the wait didn't bother her, she said.

"It's the one thing that I can do to help," Starbuck said. "I've given before, but this time, it just means more."

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