Last December the Paramount Theater and two other Rutland locations were packed with people willing to give blood and beat out Manchester, New Hampshire as the national record holder.
"We had an unbelievable turnout of people at the blood drive last year -- enough potentially to have broken the national record," said Steve Costello, the event organizer.
Twenty-four hundred donors checked in but only 1,855 pints of blood were collected. That means almost 600 people didn't donate -- some for medical reasons -- but others chose to walk out when waiting in line turned into an all day ordeal.
"The big thing is getting the staff in, getting the people in, and having enough of the staff to handle the people," Costello said.
In the end, the drive fell about 100 pints shy of the 1968 pint national record.
"We've spent really the last eight months talking about whether it made sense to try for the record again and if we did want to do it, how would we try to do it," Costello said.
The decision -- to give it one last go. Per orders of the Red Cross the December 18th drive will be the last attempt at a national record. After that, the drive will be scaled back not only in Rutland but in rival cities of Manchester and Boston.
"We can't push this one more year -- this is it, it either happens this year or it's not going to happen," said Terry Jaye, an event sponsor.
To do that, Costello says there will be some changes. First, to reduce the wait time to a goal of 90 minutes, they'll expand to a fourth downtown Rutland location. Second, the Red Cross is sending about 180 employees -- that's a 50 percent increase from last year. And third, since long time sponsor CVPS merged with GMP this year, there are more employees donating to the cause.
One group organizers hope will give the blood drive a boost -- 16 and 17 year olds. Though that age group can already donate in rival states of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, this will mark first year they're able to donate with parents permission in Vermont.
And if you need a little more motivation to brave those lines and give, Costello and Jaye promise they'll get matching tattoos if the record is broken.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 12:32 AM EDT2013-05-21 04:32:23 GMT
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