WESTBROOK – Essex resident Rich Westerman thought about donating blood but never made it to a blood drive.
However, now after fighting a battle with Leukemia, Westerman is encouraging those living in and around Westbrook to donate blood at a blood drive being held in his honor.
The drive will be held Oct. 16 from 1 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. at the Westbrook Elks located at 142 Seaside Avenue.
When asked what led to the drive being sponsored in his name, he said “my wife (Lisa) and Susan (Lamour) decided to do it.”
Lamour serves as the Account Executive of the Donor Services Department of the American Red Cross Blood Services Glastonbury Office.
Lisa donated blood for the first time at the Westbrook Elks August Blood Drive, a drive which exceeded expectations.
While the popularity of that drive was attributed to the news that the sandwich board sign at the corner of Route 1 and Seaside Avenue was taken down after First Selectman John Raffa complained to the DOT, Rich hopes this blood drive’s popularity will stem from his friends and colleagues in Essex.
The infamous sign has returned to its original location hopefully attracting those driving down busy Route 1 to stop in and give the gift of life.
Along with being a volunteer fireman, Rich recently became a certified medial response technician.
His fellow fire fighters sponsored a fundraiser which attracted 700 people who wanted to help Rich during the height of his Leukemia.
Additionally, Rick has two sons, Tim and Andrew and coaches Tim’s baseball team, serves as an Assistant Cub Master for the Cub Scouts, and enjoys taking his family to local events.
Westerman bought a home with Lisa this past December and started a brand new business, a month prior to his diagnosis.
Westerman first learned he had Leukemia after experiencing pain in his back and knees and originally thinking he had Lyme Disease for a second time.
Dr. Peter Dixon at the Middlesex Shoreline Clinic in Essex performed blood tests on Westerman and a bone marrow biopsy in April 2005 confirming his Leukemia diagnosis.
Westerman went through three and a half months of treatment to combat Leukemia including chemotherapy and lots of blood transfusion and platelets.
It was recently confirmed in Boston that Rick was in remission and Rick said he has returned to his active lifestyle.
Encouraging others to give blood, he said “unfortunately it could be them that need it” and that it only takes about an hour to give blood.
The American Red Cross reports that while 60 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to give blood, only 5 percent give blood in one year’s time.
One donation can help save the lives of three people, the Red Cross reports.
Rich received thirty blood transfusions during his battle with leukemia and is appreciative of those who gave the gift of life.
To make an appointment to give blood, visit www.givelife.org or call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE.
Those who cannot attend the Oct. 16 blood drive are encouraged to come to the blood drive being held on Oct. 20 from 1 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. at Lorensen Toyota located at 235 Middlesex Turnpike in Old Saybrook.
To give blood, one must be at least 17 years old, weigh more than 110 pounds and be in generally good health.
Donors can donate red blood cells every 56 days and can donate platelets as few as 3 days apart but a maximum of 24 times in a year.