Mark McCullor and Larry Brickwedde, teachers at Union Mill Elementary School, participate in a blood drive hosted by Paul VI student Mitch Kiefer. The two taught Kiefer and his brother Brent, and Kiefer is organizing another blood drive on Aug. 1.
When Mitch Kiefer was 6, his 3-year-old brother Brent was diagnosed with leukemia. Brent recovered, but Kiefer remains committed to helping others suffering from similar illnesses.
Now, Kiefer, a student at Paul VI Catholic School in Fairfax, is planning a second blood drive in Clifton in honor of his brother. “Most of the time when he needed blood, it was there for him. I feel like for everyone who needs blood, it should always be there for them,” Kiefer said.
Along with help from friends and family, Kiefer hosted a Panther Pints blood drive in April. The next drive will be Aug. 1 at St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church in Clifton from 2:30-7 p.m.
“INOVA was really great to my family, and I want to do this as a way to give back,” Kiefer said.
At the last blood drive, 44 participants were eligible to donate blood. “It was a great turnout,” Kiefer said.
Brent has been supportive of his brother running the blood drives, and thinks it’s a great idea.
“It was there when he needed it, and he’s really happy that I’m doing this. He also thinks that there should always be blood for those who need it,” Kiefer said.
Kiefer points out that his school, family and friends have helped him when it comes to organizing the blood drives. “Only three percent of people donate blood on a regular basis, so it can be hard to find people to donate,” he said. “Some people, depending if they’ve been out of the country or have health problems, can’t donate, but I think a lot of it is that people think it takes too much time. I really wish more people would donate on a regular basis.”
The goal for the Aug. 1 blood drive is 50 appointments, and Kiefer hopes most of the people who sign up for these appointments will be eligible to donate. To make an appointment, visit inova.org/donateblood, click on “Schedule a Donation,” then click on Donate Blood. Use sponsor code 8044. St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church is located at 6720 Union Mill Road, Clifton.