Saratoga County

Boy becomes face of Saratoga County blood drive

When Chancellor “Chewy” Stubblebine was first diagnosed with leukemia three years ago, the 4-year

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When Chancellor “Chewy” Stubblebine was first diagnosed with leukemia three years ago, the 4-year-old needed blood transfusions.

“Lots and lots and lots of them,” said his mother, Terri Stubblebine of Saratoga Springs.

Enough blood to make the now-active 7-year-old honorary chairman of two American Red Cross blood drives coming up in Ballston Spa and Clifton Park.

Officials at the American Red Cross are turning to telling more personal stories like Chewy’s as a way of getting more people to donate blood. They touch public sympathies by putting a face, name and story to what’s generally an anonymous process, and it appears to be working.

The Adirondack Saratoga Red Cross chapter has seen its blood donations increase by more than 10 percent since it began to publicize some donation stories in the last year.

Two blood drives scheduled for Monday, Feb. 11, will feature information about Stubblebine as a blood recipient, and also blood donor, said Christopher Dowd, president of Ballston Spa National Bank, which is corporate sponsor of both drives.

The drives will be held from 1 to 7 p.m. at the Ballston Spa Elks Lodge on Hamilton Street in the village, and at the Clifton Park Community Church, 516 Moe Road.

They are part of the “Give ‘n’ Take” campaign, which Red Cross officials said is a series of high-profile blood drives that spotlight the life of a local donor and recipient, trying to overcome the frequent shortages of blood needed for medical procedures.

“A lot of times you feel good when you donate, but you don’t know where the blood is going to,” said Eileen Reardon, executive director of the chapter. “We want people to come and feel connected with a recipient.”

Reardon said the chapter, which covers Saratoga County and the southern Adirondacks, began putting more emphasis on personal recipient stories about a year ago. Last August, when a call for blood was put on Stewart’s convenience store milk cartons for a week, several blood recipients told their stories at a news conference.

In the last year, the chapter has seen its total collections rise from 17,000 blood units to 19,000 blood units. As many as 15 percent to 20 percent of the people coming to blood drives have been first-time donors, Reardon said.

“It’s really pretty phenomenal,” Reardon said. “We feel pretty proud of what we’ve accomplished.”

Those who donate blood on Monday will receive information on Stubblebine, who is in second grade at the Caroline Street elementary school in Saratoga Springs.

“Chewy,” as he is affectionately known, was diagnosed with T-Cell acute lymphocytic leukemia in February 2005, and continues to undergo treatments.

“We as a family have been touched by so many people, especially those anonymous donors who donate blood. It is because of blood donors and the American Red Cross that Chancellor is here today,“ said Terri Stubblebine.

Separately, a benefit fundraiser for the Stubblebine family is being held tonight. It is also the third anniversary of the day he began cancer treatments.

The benefit starts at 8 p.m. at Longfellows Restaurant in Saratoga Springs, and includes desserts, a cash bar, dancing and a performance by the band AudioStars.

Terri Stubblebine said her son is now on maintenance treatments for his cancer. He recently resumed playing basketball and also loves to play football and baseball, his mother said.

“You just don’t know how important blood is until a friend or relative needs it,” she said.

Sue Slovic, marketing director at the Ballston Spa National Bank, said the bank has sponsored blood drives in Ballston Spa in the past and is expanding this year to the Clifton Park site.

“We’ve watched [Chewy] over the last three years, and you see someone who needs a product and you want to do whatever you can to help.” Slovic said.

Donating takes about an hour, including health screening, and is almost painless. Anyone age 17 or older may give blood, and 16-year-olds may donate with a parent’s consent.

People interested in making an appointment to donate may contact Christy Shortsleeves of the Red Cross at 792-6545 or e-mail her at [email protected]

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