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Turning tragedy into lifesaving gifts

Sean Thompson with an award given to him by teammates at his football awards banquet. Courtesy photo.

#13 Honorary Blood Drive to be held Saturday, November 24

Three months and a day after a tragic fatal accident tore through the hearts of three North Kent County families, the community is coming together to turn this tragedy into lifesaving gifts.

On August 23, 2012, Wyatt Phillips, 16, and Johnny Klaasen, 16, both of Cedar Springs, and Sean Thompson, 16, of Sparta Township, were involved in a single car crash on White Creek Avenue NE. Phillips died at the scene, when the car he was driving struck a tree. Back seat passenger Sean Thompson was pinned in the vehicle and it took rescuers an hour to free him. He was taken by AeroMed helicopter to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids. In the process of his rescue, Sean lost a great deal of blood and he required multiple transfusions.

On Saturday, November 24, 2012, Sean’s family and friends will host the #13 Honorary Blood Drive from 9 am—3 pm at 4011 17 Mile Road, Cedar Springs. The Michigan Blood bus will be parked outside Tractor Supply Company. The drive is named for Sean’s number in football. Sean is currently undergoing rehabilitation at Mary Free Bed and learning to walk again.

Members of the community are invited to participate in the #13 drive in Sean’s honor. To donate, you must be 17 years old (16 with parental or guardian consent), in good health, and weigh a minimum of 110 pounds. Appointments are not required, but available through www.miblood.org or by calling 1-866-MIBLOOD (642-5663). As a way of thanking the community for taking time out of their busy holiday weekend, Michigan Blood will offer every person who attempts to donate a $10 Meijer gift card.

Tami Elliston, Sean’s mom, is most grateful for the support of her family, friends, Sean’s school, and the community, and says the family is hosting this blood drive to help pay it forward. “Sean needed total of ten transfusions, and thankfully generous volunteer donors had stepped up to donate. We want to do the same for others. One out of seven people entering the hospital require blood – not just for accidents but for cancer treatment, chronic disease management, burns and surgery. We found out that the holiday season can lead to blood shortages because families are busy, but the need for blood never takes a vacation. Every two seconds someone needs blood. We’re hosting our drive over the Thanksgiving weekend to say thank you to all those who have helped Sean, and who are willing to help others.”

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