Rutland, Vermont -- December 23, 2011
At the Paramount Theater in Rutland, there is a production with a cast of thousands.
It's the annual blood drive with a goal of breaking all records.
91-year-old Mary Ojala knows a thing or two about blood drives. She's been volunteering her time for 26 years.
Mary grew up in New Jersey and still has that strong accent even though she's been in Vermont for almost 6 decades, she married a native Vermonter and raised 8 kids.
"Why do you volunteer? Because I was asked and I could do it and I did it and I like it!" she says.
When we first approached Mary she was hesitant at first, she didn't want the spotlight taken away from what she said was most important -- and that was Rutland breaking the national blood drive record.
"I don't think it should be singled out just for me," she says.
Mary doesn't boast, but we will. She also donates her time calling Bingo for seniors, keeps physically active and drives to church every day. She is an inspiration to people much younger than her, including her granddaughter Hannah.
"I'm going to give blood later," Hannah says.
After she does what her grandmother has accomplished -- volunteering her time.
When asked whether she is special, she doesn't brag.
"No, I'm not a bit special. I'm just one of the crowd," Ojala says.
And it was a full house in this historic theater. The plan -- that folks would donate almost 2,000 pints of blood.
"I think we have a lot of givers in Rutland, really," she says.
"It's going to be a nail biter at the end I think," says organizer Steve Costello.
And it was...falling just about 100 pints shy of breaking the national record.
Mary wasn't disappointed because Rutland came together and gave something of themselves at this special time of year.
"I think I have all the gifts I need," she says. "I have my faith, I have my family and my friends and my health."
She might not get top billing on this blood drive, but today she's center stage.
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