A drunk driver claimed the life of a local teen several years ago, but on Tuesday, his memory served as a source of life. His family holds a blood drive on his birthday every year.
Tuesday marks the 4th Annual Jason Skaaning Blood Drive. Jason would have turned 24-years-old, and what comes out of his passion for helping others comes at a critical time for those in the business of saving lives.
"There are a ton of different reasons why people come together, but at the end of the day, it's all for a good cause and it's really neat," Elysia Skaaning says.
Tuesday, donors rolled up their sleeves to give to people they will never meet.
"I'm just overwhelmed by the pure goodness of people," Pam Skaaning says.
People who likely never met a young man named Jason Skaaning.
Skaaning died at 17-years-old, but lived with a passion for giving of himself.
"He was very passionate about blood donation as well as organ donation," Elysia says.
That's why his mother, Pam, came up with the idea to celebrate Jason's birthday with a blood drive every year. "He would be here 100 percent. He would be walking around the room, socializing and making everybody laugh," she says.
The teen died in August of 2000 when a drunk driver hit his vehicle from behind while Skaaning was delivering newspapers.
"He didn't have a chance. He was consumed in a fireball," Pam says.
However, everybody has the chance to celebrate Jason's legacy.
"Every three seconds in this country somebody does need blood, the gift of life," Red Cross Team Supervisor Diane Bredeson says.
Some give out of a special connection.
"It's just something I know I'm going to do. I don't even think about it. I just know that every year on my birthday, I will come and give blood," Julie Zacher says.
Others give in spite of their fear.
"It feels good to know that I'm doing something special for her and her family to get over what they've been through. I can give this for that," Billie Streich says.
"When you can see this many people come together for something Jason was passionate about, it's awesome," Elysia says.
The family says they surpassed their goal for turnout. One hundred and thirty-seven people donated.
If you missed the drive, the Red Cross is holding a blood drive at the Alliant Energy Center on Friday from 7AM until 2PM.