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Pierre Blood Drive Honors Teen Who Died Of Cancer

December 2, 2013, 6:15 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Pierre Blood Drive Honors Teen Who Died Of Cancer
PIERRE, SD -

Blood donations save lives. This time of year, your donation is even more critical, representatives of United Blood Services say.

A Pierre blood drive also honors a Fort Pierre teenager who died after battling cancer.

The name of the 8th Annual Tyler Wilcox Memorial Guns and Hoses Blood Drive immediately tells a person there's a story behind the event.

"It's a very important event to us. Obviously, a lot of people take the blood bank and the supply of blood for granted," Bob Wilcox said.

"Before Tyler was sick, I didn't think anything about giving blood and now I know how important it is," Jeri Wilcox said.

Tyler was Bob and Jeri Wilcox's son. Diagnosed with cancer at age 16, he died at age 19.

He received a lot of blood during his fight, so the Wilcox family wanted to give back and helped start a blood drive. It has law enforcement and firefighters recruiting blood donors in a competition to see who can recruit more.

"We do battles like these in South Dakota and North Dakota, normally in larger communities," Abbie Titze, donor recruiter with United Blood Services, said. "Here it started, it was all because of Tyler."

The event has grown over the years. This year, it stretches over three days with the goal of recruiting 200 donors.

Still, the event takes place only once a year. Organizers hope its impact goes well beyond that.

"Hopefully, we take someone that has never donated before and turn them into a lifetime donor, and that's what we need to do," Titze said.

Since its members understand the need, the Wilcox family hopes for the same. That's just one part of this blood drive they appreciate.

"It's an opportunity to have fond memories of times that have gone by," Bob Wilcox said.

"One of your fears as a parent is that your son would be forgotten and Tyler isn't, so that's part of the blessing," Jeri Wilcox said.

The blood drive runs through Wednesday. People can donate at the mall in Pierre Tuesday between 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. They can donate at the Fort Pierre Fire Department Wednesday between 12:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.

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