Community members showed up in droves to have needles stuck in their veins and their blood pumped into plastic bags to be shipped off to patients in need.Cora Rader, a future sailor, was the first of her group of recruits to be pricked. It was not her first time.“I always donate,” said Rader, 18. “I've been donating since I was 16.”The United Blood Services held a Sept. 11 memorial and blood drive Tuesday, during the 11th anniversary of the attacks. Emergency responders and the armed forces were honored for their services to the community, and community leaders spoke for the service.To donate Tuesday was so much more important than any other day, Rader said.“I'm really glad I could donate today because it's 9/11. I remember 9/11,” she said. “I'm proud that I can. I would have been bummed if I couldn't.”On Sept. 11, 2001, about 3,000 people were killed when hijackers crashed commercial jetliners into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.Eleven years ago, Rader was in the first grade. Her parents woke her up. They told her to watch the TV.“Dad had to leave” because, as a National Guardsman, he was on duty. “He was on high alert,” she said. Rader said she did not fully understand what was going on. Her parents didn't send her to school, at least not that she can recall.“I felt really bad. It was really scary,” she said.Rader comes from a military family. In addition to her Army National Guard dad, her uncle has been in the Navy for 28 years.“I'm proud to represent the Navy on 9/11,” she said, a needle sticking out of her arm as she hurried the flow of blood by squeezing a small ball. She signed up for a six-year enlistment and ships out to boot camp in November. Rader came with her fellow future sailors, many of whom donated.“I like having the next six years planned out,” she said. “I wish I could leave sooner. I'm really excited.”
Mike Vadnais has been donating blood for the past 50 years.When the words tumbled out of his mouth he looked up, somewhat stunned to actually hear it said.“I've donated a little over 85 gallons,” he said. Vadnais, a retired military man from Gardnerville, has been donating blood since he was a freshman in college, clocking in at a little under 700 donations.“It's giving back to the community,” he said. “It puts you (people who donate blood) into a special category.”He was coming back from Reno when he figured, he might as well donate today, he said.Gilbert Martinez, of Minden, was in the military, too, from 1977-80.“I figured today would be a good day to come in,” Martinez said. “It's a habit of mine.”Martinez was doing a “double red” donation, and he, too, was quickly squeezing away to pump the blood away.“Today was special,” he said. “Go out and do something for the community.”Because of the high turnout, some potential donors were discouraged by the long wait time, Donor Recruitment Supervisor Alana Ladd-Ross said.By Monday, the center had every appointment for Tuesday filled, she said.“It's the biggest thing we've ever done here,” she said.Donors who didn't get in Tuesday are encouraged to come through the rest of the week and month.“The techs have just really been moving,” she said.The donation center set its goal at 75 units and had 73 patients signed in an hour before the close time, and many of those were double donations, bringing the total units to well more than the goal of 75, she said.“Please, come in through the rest of the month,” she said.Martinez summed up his opinion on giving blood.“We all have to be heroes one way or another,” he said.