Ruby Hawbecker | Writer
October 22, 2021
San Clemente High School’s annual blood drives collect an average of 100 pints of blood each drive, amounting to around 300 lives saved. To make this change happen, the student body and surrounding community comes together.
Twice a year, SCHS’ club and the distinguished organization, Be a Hero, Become a Donor, holds blood drives that support those in need of blood transfusions and bone marrow transplants. Students above the age of 17 and anyone else in the surrounding community who meets the health qualifications are highly encouraged to donate blood.
BAHBAD was founded by Gina Cousineau shortly after the loss of her son, Evan. Evan was lively and fun throughout his childhood, described by his sister, Mary Cousineau, as someone who “lit up the room” with his energy. As a three-sport athlete and a funny, intelligent, and kind boy, he was a friend to everyone around him.
Evan suffered from a genetic metabolic disease known as Adrenoleukodystrophy, or ALD, which affects the protective barrier of nervous cells in the brain. ALD causes serious symptoms and can lead to disability and even death if not treated in time. Diagnosed at the age of 9, Evan was considered a candidate for a bone marrow transplant, and after traveling to the University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital, he was able to receive a double cord blood transplant six weeks after his diagnosis, saving his life. Unfortunately, six months after the successful surgery, a secondary infection took his life. This was a devastating loss for his family and those in his community.
Losing a child at such a young age is heartbreaking. Yet even after living through such a painful experience, Gina felt that it was her duty to raise awareness about blood donation because she was truly thankful that her son had received blood and a transplant, which lengthened his life.
Putting together this organization was life changing for Gina because it allowed her to keep the spirit of her son alive. She says, “Every day I get to talk about Evan, every day I get to tell his story, and every day because of him we’re doing amazing things.”
Recently, San Clemente BAHBAD’s first drive of the year on October 22 proved to be another success. “I’m really happy with the turnout of high school students wanting to save lives. It’s really cool to know that we can all come together for a greater cause. Be a hero and become a donor!” says senior and BAHBAD president Savannah Batchelor.
Students who gave blood are excited to give a part of themselves to the community, knowing what a positive impact it will make.
Senior Kevin Peña says that giving blood “saved [his] mother and father’s lives, and it can save yours too!”
Additionally, the Senior Vice President of BAHBAD, Juliette Gregath, adds, “Donating blood is such an easy way to make a difference and I’m so happy to be a part of such a meaningful club. It only takes 10 minutes to save 3 lives!”
Due to the efforts of the San Clemente student body and community and the Cousineau family, lives are being saved daily, and Evan’s spirit lives on in the great positive force of hope that blood drives bring for people with diseases like Evan’s.
For more information on BAHBAD events and how to donate blood, join the bone marrow registry, and become an organ donor, please visit bahbad.org.