Serving Others in Several Ways

Chadd Boland of Peoria is a Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Specialist for the Illinois Army National Guard, 444th Chemical Company. Chadd first gave blood in 2016 during Basic Combat Training. At the time, he admits he was not too excited about the idea, but a little convincing got him there.

Toward the end of the training, his company was offered the chance to donate blood in lieu of physical training that day. Chadd was hesitant about needles but says, the offer, which included snacks he’d not been able to enjoy for several months, was too good to pass up. “I’m quite sure my entire company donated after that,” he says.

Before Chadd graduated, his drill sergeants handed out thank you cards from hospitals that received the donated blood. He says, “It felt great to help. From then on, I decided to donate every chance I get.”

Chadd learned during his first donation he has O+ blood, which is given to patients more than any other blood type and considered the most needed blood type.

He understands why people might get nervous before donating blood, but says, it’s worth it, and a chance to do some good. Plus, he adds, you may end up being the person who needs blood someday.

“It’s definitely helpful. I got into an accident once and broke my leg. I can’t imagine how many bags of blood they needed for me. I definitely want to give back what I took, especially if my blood goes to someone who desperately needs it.”
-Chadd Boland

Chadd still regularly donates blood. He is a Power Red donor and says, “I always do Power Red because I like to donate a little more. I’m trying to help out however I can.” He has donated 13 units of blood so far, with no plans of stopping.

Thank you, Chadd for being a volunteer blood donor! Visit to make an appointment to donate blood at a location near you.

Written by Illinois Region Communications Manager Brian Williamsen

A Giving Community in the Illinois River Valley

At the corner of 4th and Grant Streets in Peru, Illinois in LaSalle County, a familiar scene unfolds. Donors from around the community walk, bike and drive to the American Red Cross Illinois Valley Donation Center to roll up a sleeve and give blood. img_5778 “It’s so convenient, I work just across the street,” one donor said. There is a blood drive at the center nearly every other Tuesday, which makes it easy for regular donors to continue to give. IMG_5774

Shawn Bekelski has been donating blood for over 30 years since he started giving blood on a whim in the 1980’s as a member of the National Guard.

“They said anyone who donated got to leave two hours early that day,” he said with a laugh. Linda Barnard is also a regular donor. Having the O- blood type, she knows how important it is to give consistently. She also donates in honor of her dad, James Barnard, who donated over 15 gallons of blood to the Red Cross during his lifetime. IMG_5780
Linda Barnard and Shawn Bekelski are both regular blood donors at the Red Cross Donation Center in Peru.
“I want to continue his legacy,” she said of his persistent giving. Kathy Koscielski has been volunteering with the Red Cross since 2011, and currently helps with the snack area at this blood drive along with other volunteers. A gift left by the family of long-time volunteer Jane Duncan allows the post-blood donation snacks to be extra special at this drive, including extra desserts and BBQ sandwiches. IMG_5782
Volunteers Shelley Sines, Kathy Koscielski and Mary Kibilka help staff the canteen area for people to rest and enjoy snacks after giving blood.
These volunteers say it is a great community to be a part of and how exciting it is to see not only donors return to give but when there is someone new donating for the very first time. Jennifer Fabish is not a first-time donor, but she encouraged her 16-year-old son, RJ, to become a donor and he certainly made it count by doing a Power Red donation on his first time giving! She hopes to make donating blood a family tradition as it was for her grandfather and understands the impact both of their donations can have. IMG_5788 “And with the shortage right now, as someone with O-, it helps so many more people to do the Power Red,” Fabish said. In celebration of the upcoming Independence Day holiday on July 4th, the center will be giving out mini American flags to donors through a sponsorship by current long-time volunteer Esther Sparks. Make your appointment to donate blood at an upcoming drive by going to and consider doing a Power Red! #givelife

Written by communications manager Holly Baker