BANGOR, Maine — Dale Ruopp and her father Paul Ruopp started a new Thanksgiving tradition this year — giving blood.
The Bangor residents heard about the annual American Red Cross’ blood drive on the news Thursday morning and on the spur of the moment chose to give back.
“We decided this is the way we wanted to spend our morning instead of watching the [Macy’s Thanksgiving Day] parade,” Dale Ruopp, 54, said as she and her 89-year-old father enjoyed a pancake breakfast after donating blood.
The Ruopps were two of about 60 people expected to come to the Bangor Donor Center between 7 a.m. and noon, according to Tracy Darling, who handled public relations for the event. That far exceeded the center’s goal of 30 people.
“My daughter talked me into it and I always listen to my kids,” the elder Ruopp said in between bites of blueberry pancakes. He moved to Maine in August from Danbury, Conn., to live with his daughter.
Paul Ruopp, who will be 90 in February, estimated that over the years he has given “over three gallons of blood.”
“I feel like I got rid of a lot of bad blood today,” he joked.
Jon Balleseros, 24, and Lacey Sinclair, 21, both of Bangor, heard about the blood drive on the radio. The couple agreed that a pancake breakfast after giving blood was the first of three or four meals they would have on Thanksgiving Day.
“It’s been very hectic at Macy’s this week,” Sinclair said of her job at the Bangor Mall department store where she works displaying merchandise and signs. She expected to be at the store by 4:30 a.m. today to complete preparations for the store’s 5 a.m. opening for Black Friday sales.
Balleseros, who works for Old Town Canoe, said things had slowed down at his workplace after the busy summer season.
Dwaine Witham, 50, of Detroit, works for the American Red Cross as a mobile unit assistant but had Thursday off. He decided Thanksgiving Day was a good time to try out the new technology at the center, which allows plasma and platelets to be collected from donors.
Platelets are critical to the clotting process and once collected must be used within five days, according to Darling. They cannot be frozen or stored. They are used for patients undergoing chemotherapy for cancer treatment, organ transplants and open-heart surgery.
Witham went through a procedure called apheresis (a-fur-EE-sis), which separates platelets and plasma and returned his red blood cells back to him. It takes about two hours, including paperwork, to donate platelets, according to an American Red Cross information sheet.
“This is a way of giving back and helping someone else,” Witham said, noting that three members of his family are cancer survivors.
Superior Court Justice Kevin Cuddy said he came to give blood on Thanksgiving Day because it was one of the few days when he had the time to donate. Cuddy, 65, of Holden, has an office in the Hancock County Courthouse in Ellsworth and also presides regularly in Washington County.
The judge, who had a law practice in Bangor for many years, in March 2007 was appointed to the bench by Gov. John Baldacci.
Cuddy said that Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday.
“I’m thankful for my health and the good people around me,” he said, “and the fact that we live in a free and sustaining society. We’re very lucky.”
The American Red Cross will conduct a blood drive 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at Bangor VFW Hall, 1356 Hammond St.
It will also hold an open house 10-11 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8, at the Blood Center, 900B Hammond St., Bangor, to explain its new equipment, which allows platelets and plasma to be collected from donors.
For information, call 941-2900.