Blood drive for scholarship needs 89 donors

By SASHA JOHNS / Community Columnist

“You need blood for your daughter, but there is none available.” These were the words six years ago that sparked a community movement in Columbiana to help one of their own.

Scott and Renee Wilder’s 10-year-old daughter, Mollie, was beginning her battle against a rare brain tumor.

After the initial surgery and first round of chemo, it was determined that she needed red cells.

Mollie Wilder documents blood drive success. (Contributed)

Mollie is blood type O negative, the universal donor. Because her blood type was in such high demand, there was no blood available when she needed it, resulting in a hospital stay until her blood type could be obtained.

This experience moved Renee to make sure others never had to face the same problem.

“It was nearly as devastating as finding out about the tumor in the beginning,” Renee said. With the help of friends, the Red Cross was contacted and initially turned down the group seeking to start a blood drive in Columbiana.

The organization had not had previous success in the small town.

After much persistence, they were finally able to set up their first drive in April 2014, the month of Mollie Wilder’s birthday.

Since that day, the Wilders have spearheaded 24 successful blood drives in Columbiana.

Mollie is in remission, and the blood drive continues. Renee, who works in the Columbiana school system, continues to partner with the Red Cross and Shelby County High School to extend the impact that this ongoing blood drive delivers to the small town.

Since 2017, students who work with Renee to ensure the success of each of the two school year blood drives have the opportunity to earn a scholarship for college through the Red Cross.

The amount of the scholarship is determined by the number of units each blood drive collects.

To date, the blood drive has awarded $5,000 to three hardworking Shelby County High School students.

The goal for the 2019 school years is to be able to award a collective $3,000 in scholarships to two more recipients.

That’s where the community comes in. The Mollie Wilder Blood Drive needs to collect 89 units at this week’s blood drive to meet their scholarship goal.

Interested in helping? Donors have two chances to make an impact this week.

On Thursday, April 11, you can donate at Columbiana First Baptist from 2-7 p.m.

You can also roll up your sleeve at the Shelby County High School Library on Friday, April 12, from 2-7 p.m.

Contact Renee Wilder at rwilder@shelbyed.org to set up an appointment in advance.

How does Renee feel about the future of the blood drive? “The students helping with the drive give me courage that the support for this drive will continue for generations to come,’ she said.