Blood drive to honor Kim Degrave a success
By Hugh Fisher
CLEVELAND ó David Degrave said he knew his community was close-knit.
He knew that people had promised to turn out to donate blood at the Cleveland Lions Club last week in honor of his wife, Kim, who has terminal cancer.
“As I was heading over there, I kind of figured there would be a few people over there giving blood,” Degrave said.
But when he turned onto Cemetery Street heading to the Lions Club, he saw that the parking lot was nearly full.
The Degraves are former employees of Freightliner. Friends and fellow members of United Auto Workers Local 3520 helped organize the drive along with the Lions Club and Cedar Grove AME Zion Church.
Many in the community knew Kim and David from their 22 years of living and working in the community.
Still, David said he was taken aback by the turnout.
“There were so many people sitting there in chairs with numbers on, waiting to donate,” he said. “It brought tears to my eyes because I was really surprised by the number that were there.”
“People in the community really came together,” said Sherry Smith, blood services director at the Elizabeth Hanford Dole Chapter of the American Red Cross.
The team conducting the blood drive had hoped to get 40 units of blood, but eventually collected 73.
“We had to call for extra staff,” Smith said.
The successful drive comes at a critical time in the nation’s blood supply when many regular donors are vacationing.
“Unfortunately, there are many people in Kim’s situation who depend on blood to stay alive,” Smith said.
Degrave’s treatments for advanced melanoma have at times required her to receive multiple units of blood per week.
David said that Kim is doing well, although she continues to be under hospice care. Her health kept her from attending the blood drive.
Many of those who came out signed a card that was given to the family afterward.
“I want to say thanks from the deepest part of my heart,” Degrave said.
Degrave said he heard of one former Freightliner employee who drove more than 120 miles from the mountains to give blood.
“I love everybody who turned out, all the volunteers. … They were really great.”