There were donors waiting for the doors to open at the sixth annual blood drive on Sept. 8. The SFD hosts two blood drives a year in honor of Wilbur Ritter, honorary Captain, and Sayville’s Blood Drive Chairman for almost 20 years.
Ritter founded the 9/11 blood drive in Sayville, but never got to see it come to fruition because he died in the line of duty just days before the 2006 event. Since then, a total of 684 pints of blood have been donated, including the 134 pints donated on Sept. 8, according to Wendy Liu, public information officer for the Sayville Fire Department.
Kristin Beedenbender, account manager of donor recruitment for Long Island Blood Services, said that since Hurricane Irene struck Long Island the blood supply has been depleted. “Most blood types are ‘in the red’ and we are still not caught up to the cushion of a five-day supply,” she said. Beedenbender added that Long Island Blood Services is honoring 9/11 by collecting a pint for each individual lost that day.
Veteran volunteer Carole Martino said she was looking for something meaningful to do with her spare time that offered flexibility and a chance to meet people. Of the current drive, she said that “the early turnout is a very good sign because blood is needed – it is desperately needed.”
Special sponsors of the Blood Drive included WBLI and WBAB. Fingers, the afternoon drive DJ for WBAB, thanked everyone for coming and “rocking and rolling up your sleeves.” He said whenever he asks people why they are donating blood, the overwhelming response is “’cause it’s the right thing to do.” Donors were treated to commemorative T-shirts, rubber bracelets and pins. A generous canteen of snacks was also provided to help them refuel.
Peter, one of Wilbur Ritter’s sons who attended the drive, said, “Today’s blood drive falls on the fifth anniversary of the first 9/11 blood drive planned by my dad. My dad would be thrilled at the success of this blood drive, and our family is so happy to see how many life-saving pints of blood were donated today.”