Education

Belleville West student takes ‘Gallon Grad’ award for giving

Belleville West High School senior Sydney Farley recieves the Gallon Grad Award from Alissa Fuhrmann with Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center. Farley has donated a gallon of blood before her graduation date and will wear red cords at graduation signifying her donation.
Belleville West High School senior Sydney Farley recieves the Gallon Grad Award from Alissa Fuhrmann with Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center. Farley has donated a gallon of blood before her graduation date and will wear red cords at graduation signifying her donation. News-Democrat

Only one student will wear a blood-red cord around her neck at Wednesday’s Belleville West graduation, signifying the Gallon Grad Award. Sydney Farley has donated one gallon of blood — eight donations — since she turned 16.

Sydney, 18, was presented with the award on Friday morning at the high school by a representative of the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center , who said she is the only student in the area to achieve the mark so far.

“It’s never very many,” said Alyssa Fuhrmann, the center’s donor relations consultant. “Usually you have (students who give) two, three or four times, but to have eight ... takes a lot of commitment.”

The blood center is the exclusive provider of blood products to Memorial, St. Elizabeth’s and Touchette hospitals, providing nearly 7,000 units of red blood cells to those hospitals last year.

Fuhrmann oversees donations at about 10 of the area’s high schools.

Sydney has donated at most of the school’s blood drives since she was first eligible at age 16. She really got on board after finding out that each pint helps three people.

“Not knowing where it goes is so much better,” she said, referring to blood donations made to a specific person in need. “You need to give it to everyone; I don’t know why people don’t.”

Lisa Quandt, student council adviser at Belleville West and the coordinator for blood drives at the school, told Farley: “this is a really big deal, seriously.”

“Some people are really good donors,” Quandt said, referring to those like Farley who maintained their composure during the donations and returned for later drives.

Sydney is going to Southeast Missouri State University in the fall to study animal science. She was disappointed to hear that the Mississippi Valley’s reach does not extend that far south, but expects to come home to give blood.

Contact reporter Mary Cooley at mcooley@bnd.com or 618-239-2535. Follow her on Twitter: @MaryCooleyBND.

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