2017-05-18 / Upcoming Events

Memorial blood drive, road race scheduled

The Payton’s Pace 5K, which celebrates its sixth anniversary Sunday, is run in memory of Payton Watson, who died from leukemia in October 2008, less than a month from her 12th birthday.

While the Fort Getty race raises awareness and money, something else needs to be raised the following day in her memory — blood.

The drive is planned from 2:30-7:30 p.m. May 22 at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 97 Narragansett Ave. Although the blood drives in town are named for World War II vet James McLoughlin, the May drive always honors Payton.

It’s been eight weeks since the March blood drive, so townspeople who donated then are eligible to give blood Monday. That drive was dedicated to Eileen Tiexiera, a Howland Avenue resident who was diagnosed with leukemia in December. There were 51 donors, which is nearly double the usual turnout, organizers said.

According to the family, Tiexiera’s strength continues to improve after a long bout of chemotherapy and blood transfusions. She tentatively is scheduled for a bone marrow transplant in a few months. Tiexiera will need more blood transfusions after her transplant, so the continued support of her neighbors will be appreciated, said Dennis Webster, who organizes the drives on behalf of the American Legion.

This drive is the third in the six-part McLoughlin series, which is administered by the Rhode Island Blood Center. McLoughlin, a longtime Jamestowner who died in 2015, donated blood 428 times.

According to Webster, a dependable supply of blood is an essential component of this country’s healthcare system, and it all begins with volunteer donors. McLoughlin knew about the importance of donations from his time as a combat medic in Korea in 1951. What he learned then is still true today — without a blood supply, patients will die.

Donors must weigh at least 110 pounds and not have an infection. Chronic health conditions as diabetes or high blood pressure do not necessarily disqualify a donor. Donors should bring a photo ID.

Runners who have not yet registered for Payton’s Pace can visit its website. The cost is $27 through Saturday, $30 on race day. The 5K, which is certified by USA Track & Fields, begins at 1 p.m. It is preceded by a free children’s run at noon. There also will be raffles, music, face painting and a bouncy house. Fort Getty will be closed for an hour that day beginning at 12:45 p.m.

There will be awards given to the top three men and women in six age groups, including cash prizes for the top male and female finishers.

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