Posted: 03.14.23 02:22 PM
Make Every Day Count
For the last 15 years, Debbie Maples-Whitenton has channeled deep grief into the work of saving lives. Her son, Joe, was just 20 years old when he was killed by gun violence. After he was shot, Joe spent several days receiving intensive medical care, including 32 pints of blood – enough to replenish his body's own blood supply three times over.
After Joe died, Debbie chose to remember and honor his life by hosting an annual blood drive with the American Red Cross. Each year, the “Joe 15 Blood Drive” at the Manassas Church of the Brethren in Manassas, Virginia collects enough blood to save between 100 and 150 lives. While the need for blood donations is ever-present, the Joe 15 drive offers a way for the community to remember Joe and support Debbie, while they participate in saving lives across the community. Some friends have told Debbie that they donate once a year, at the Joe 15 Blood Drive.
Debbie is clear that grief isn't something you ever “get over.” The only response to great loss, she says, is to cherish each moment as it arrives, to keep living and do what you can to make every day count. Remembering Joe with the annual blood drive has made it possible for hundreds of people to do just that. This month, it's an honor for Wind River to partner with Debbie and the American Red Cross to inspire harmony by making every day count.