By Zach Osowski
The Herald Bulletin
---- — FRANKTON — In 2005, Pamela Mason's life was changed forever. The car her daughter Whitney was driving crashed on the way to a bonfire killing Whitney and Lacey Curtis. After enduring multiple surgeries, Jessica King died three months after the accident of cardiac arrest.
Now, eight years later, Mason was in the Frankton High School gymnasium giving blood for the memorial blood drive the school does twice a year in honor of the students.
Mason said the blood drive is a way not only to honor the memory of the three girls, but also a way to save lives in the process.
Most of the Frankton students were 8 or 9 years old when the tragic car accident occurred and too young to know any of the girls. Despite any personal connection, they keep the three teenagers' memory alive by signing up to donate.
It's an act Mason said is very touching.
"I don't think they realize how heart-warming this is for us," she said. "These kids are amazing. They're all about the community and when they can help out in any way these kids are willing to do it."
Students have to be at least 16 and have parental consent before they can give blood. Kaydee Terrell missed out on the age cutoff by one day last year. This year she was happy to finally get her chance to donate.
"I'm very excited because this is the first year I'm able to do it," Terrell said, as she waited for a station to open up.
All the students had different reasons for giving. Courtney Hinton's mom had a blood clot in her leg two years ago that might have killed her if not for a blood transfusion. She said that experience made her want to give back as soon as she was old enough.
Trey Baxter, a senior, said he donates blood as often as he can.
"It's a chance for me to give away something I don't use every day," Baxter said.
King was also the niece of Baxter's great-aunt, so the loss touched him personally as well in a small way.
School nurse Cathy Kelich said they routinely have 60 to 75 students give blood each time they have the drive. Considering there are about 200 students eligible in the school, she said that is a very high percentage.
She said enthusiasm about the project is not something they need to worry about.
"The kids get really excited about it, they like to participate in it," Kelich said. "It's a good, volunteer community effort our kids can get involved in."
She said participation in the drive has not waned even eight years later. She said honoring the girls with this blood drive has become a tradition for the school and each new wave of students is excited to continue that tradition.
For Mason, the blood drive still means just as much to her and the other parents now as it did then.
"We're still very involved," she said. "It means a lot to carry on their memory."
Follow Zach Osowski on Twitter @Osowski_THB or call him at 640-4847.
Other local blood drives: Oct. 17, Shenandoah High School, Middletown. 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Oct. 19, Millcreek Civic Center, Chesterfield. 10 a.m.-2 p.m.