Some friends meet at a coffee shop to catch up. Some go for a walk in the park. Others, like Lisa Topolosky and her friends Kelly, Jenn, and Linda, save lives together.
The group meets regularly – every eight weeks to be exact – at The Blood Connection (TBC) donation center in Raleigh. It’s where they can catch up while helping their community – knowing their quality time is also giving their neighbors a chance at the same thing. This February, TBC hopes more community members will enlist their friends to join them in giving the gift of life, by donating blood with their community blood center.
Blood donation hits close to home for Lisa Topolosky: her daughter Abby was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor when she was just five years old and received countless blood transfusions as part of her treatment. Seven years later, Abby has been in remission for several years, but now Lisa encourages her friends and her community to join her in giving blood.
“It was amazing to me, there are people out there donating for her. The least I can do is go out, 30 to 45 minutes, every eight weeks to give back to somebody else going through it,” Topolosky said.
Through her family’s non-profit, Abby’s Army, she has become an advocate for other families whose children are also battling pediatric cancer. 25% of blood donations are used to help cancer patients, many of them children. That’s why it’s important to Topolosky that people donate blood. That’s also why her friends have made blood donation part of their routines.
“I never realized how important blood donation was until Lisa’s daughter went through her cancer treatment,” said Kelly McAleer. “Knowing that there are people out there- someone’s child, someone’s loved one- in need right now, and knowing that people who cared enough to donate when my friend’s daughter needed it…I feel like I can at least do my part. So, giving blood in honor of my friends, it only feels right to do it with my friends…”
In setting the dates for their future donation get-togethers, the foursome has also set an example for their friends, family, and neighbors.
“I’d been a donor for years but hadn’t always been very consistent with it until we all got together to do a group blood donation and lunch date after,” said Linda Blevins. “Blood donation is such an easy thing to do and has a really positive impact for others. It’s also another small way for me to show love and support to Lisa, Abby, and the good work of Abby’s Army. Going as a group is a lot of fun but also helps us all stay on track to donate regularly.”
The Blood Connection is encouraging others across the region to make an appointment to donate blood with their friends and become a community friend while they do it! As a thank you for donating blood in the month of February, all blood donors will receive a limited-edition FRIENDS-themed blood donor sticker, plus a BONUS $30 eGfit card! Donors are encouraged to post a picture with their sticker on social media tagging The Blood Connection (@thebloodconnection) and using the hashtag #therefortbc to be entered to win one of four $100 eGift cards!
To make an appointment to donate this February, go to thebloodconnection.org/donate.