The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 5, 2013

Blood donors flock to Lifesavers Ball

Patrick Buchnowski

JOHNSTOWN — Pitt-Johnstown student Ryan Roland admits he’s a little squeamish when it comes to donating blood.

“Last time I felt really dizzy,” he said.

On Saturday, the 19-year-old mechanical engineering student from Johnstown bit the proverbial bullet and donated a pint of type A positive blood.

“It’s been about two years,” he said. “I thought I should try again.”

Roland was one of many donors arriving at the Richland Township fire hall for the Lifesavers’ Ball that ran from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The annual blood drive was sponsored by the American Red Cross Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region.

It is one of the largest blood drives held in the Greater Johnstown area. The collection comes at a crucial time as the Red Cross works to replenish blood supplies after the holidays.

“We’re in need of all types,” said Autumn Moore, donor recruitment manager for the Red Cross.

Each pint of blood can save up to three lives, she said.

Eager residents helped the Red Cross easily top its goal of 70 donors. By 2 p.m., 81 people each had given a pint.

Stonycreek Township resident Michael Zakuciya said he understands the importance of donating because one of his relatives needed blood.

“That’s when it really hit you,” he said.

Zakuciya said he now donates a pint of type O negative blood every 112 days. A stable blood supply helps to save lives.

“Everybody needs it,” Zakuciya said.

This was the first year the Red Cross teamed with the Cinderella Project. Affiliated with the YWCA of Greater Johns­town, the Cinderella Project provides prom gowns at no cost for girls who are unable to afford a gown.  

Donors were generous on Saturday.

“A woman came in and donated 50 prom dresses because she’s going out of business,” said Megan Sees-Livingston, Cinderella Project coordinator.

Volunteers on Saturday collected a few hundred dresses of various styles, colors and sizes.

“That’s good,” Sees-Livingston said. “That’s awesome.”

State Sen. John Wozniak, D-Westmont, rolled up his sleeve and squeezed out a pint of type O positive.

“I used to be a very good donor,” he said. “I’m sort of like the prodigal son. So I said, ‘OK, it’s New Year’s, and they need the blood.’ ”

Wozniak said he was able to coax his wife and daughter to search the family attic for dresses that they donated to the Cinderella Project.

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