By Kim Walter -- email@example.com
A blood drive will take place from 1 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Peter Muhlenburg Middle School in memory of Diana Esteppe of Woodstock.
Esteppe's grandson, Matt Hyden, 18 of Maurertown, is sponsoring the drive, which is the third he's put on in a year. A recent graduate of Central High School, Hyden learned about the American Red Cross and sponsoring blood drives while being a part of the school's student council.
Hyden was offered scholarship money from the Red Cross his senior year, given that he put on blood drives and collected 66 pints of blood from them. His grandmother was a big part of the planning that went into two successful drives.
"She helped me with brainstorming and really just getting everything together," Hyden said. "She loved helping other people...she always put others before herself."
Years ago, Esteppe received four blood transfusions during a kidney transplant, Hyden said. She passed away this past April after suffering form a rare flesh-eating disease.
Now, Hyden said he plans to hold all future blood drives in her memory, to continue making her proud.
"I was able to talk to her a couple days before she died, and she told me she was very proud of everything I'd accomplished," he said. "We were tight."
Hyden said he plans to have a carnival theme for the upcoming blood drive in hopes of getting more of the community involved. Several county fairs and tourist attractions are donating passes for prizes in a drawing.
Hyden said he's had some trouble recruiting blood donors for Red Cross drives since another organization, Virginia Blood Services, is now collecting blood for Valley Health. On Jan. 1, Valley Health switched blood suppliers, from the Red Cross to Virginia Blood Services, a nonprofit tax-exempt corporation headquartered in Richmond.
"People don't want to come out because they say their blood isn't staying local," he said. "But if someone is really hurt, they go to Winchester and then possibly to Charlottesville...it just doesn't make sense to me."
"It comes down to this: we all need blood," he added.
If Hyden reaches his goal of collecting 66 pints of blood, the Red Cross will award him a "Making the Difference" scholarship, according to Patty Pirtle, who works with the region's donor resource development.
"It's a summer scholarship program, and students who successfully put on a blood drive can get anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000," Pirtle said. While she covers Warren, Page, Shenandoah and Clarke counties, she said that Hyden is the only student taking advantage of the scholarship opportunity.
"Twenty percent of blood collected in our region comes from high school and college students," she said. "So when school's out, we take a hit."
Hyden is currently taking classes at Lord Fairfax Community College. He plans to transfer to a university and eventually become a first grade teacher.
"My grandmother always told me to do something I like," he said.
To register for the blood drive, go to redcrossblood.org. Walk-ins are welcome as well.