Substitute donor sought for blood drive

WANTED: Substitute blood donor. First-time donors encouraged to step up, sit back and give.

Dave McKeever thought about placing such an ad in a newspaper because for the first time in years he is ineligible to donate in the Island Blood Drive scheduled to take place June 4-5 at St. Bernard Catholic Church, 248 S. Harbor Drive, Holmes Beach.

“I had never missed one,” McKeever said of donating in the Island drive, which in addition to stocking Florida Blood Services supplies raises money for the Anna Maria Island Community Center, Anna Maria Island Privateers, Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation, Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island and West Manatee Fire Rescue Auxiliary.

But McKeever is nearing the completion of an intense round of chemotherapy as he battles cancer. He had thought he suffered something less serious, diverticulitis, until doctors discovered a tumor on his abdomen.

“It was quite large and pressing on a lot of organs,” McKeever said. “When I first found I had cancer, I thought, I can’t donate to the Island Blood Drive anymore.”

He confirmed his ineligibility with his medical caretakers. “It kind of hurts after all these years, but they told me, ‘Your blood donor days are over.’”

Until he participated in the drive, McKeever had never donated blood.

Along with his wife, he first decided to donate the June after his father died of cancer. “I thought of it as a tribute,” McKeever said.

He also believed in the dual causes — the medical and charitable aid.

“This is certainly a way to support your community,” he said. “A simple way to do that.”

The five nonprofits collect money from the Island drive through an anonymous family foundation, which pledges $100 for each unit of good blood collected.

Blood donors select the nonprofit or nonprofits they want to support.

McKeever is a self-described wildlife enthusiast who has volunteered to care for injured animals for Wildlife Inc., which has a shelter in Bradenton Beach.

“My personal cause is Wildlife Inc.,” McKeever said.

But as he encourages a substitute to donate June 4-5 because he cannot, McKeever said, “I would never ever tell anyone who to make a donation to.… I’m just looking for somebody to take my place because I can’t do it. You know, it’s so simple but so rewarding.”

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