Teresa Garofalo (left) with Blood Drive Chair Liz Bales and the horse Boomer, that Garofalo sold to Bales. Both women shared a love of horses and Garofalo was a horse veterinarian.

by Pete Mazzaccaro

The annual Blood Drive sponsored by the Chestnut Hill Community Association will take place on Saturday, Feb. 23, and again the drive will be in memory of the chairperson Liz Bales’ friend Teresa Garofalo.

A model turned veterinarian, Garofalo died in August of 2010 of complications from acute myeloid leukemia, a bone marrow disorder in which abnormal white blood cells accumulate in the bone marrow and prevent the production of normal blood cells.

“Her treatment lasted a little more than three years,” Bales said. “I got to spend a lot of those days with her. A lot of those days were great fun. Others were very hard. I learned a lot about her and about the value of life.”

In the course of her treatment, Garofalo needed 400 units of blood, a milestone Bales optimistically hopes to reach by raising the same amount through the community blood drive.

Bales said that the drive is not just for Garofalo. It’s about the many people in the same situation.

“This drive is really in honor of everyone who has a need,” she said. “People need blood and especially this time of year when the supply is low.”

Bales said she would do anything it took to make giving blood a comfortable experience.

“I’ll hold your hand and we can watch your children,” she said.

She added that anyone worried about the experience should go to the drive with a friend.

The blood drive will be held at Vare Field House on the campus of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, 8000 Cherokee Street, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The drive will again be conducted by the Miller Keystone Blood Center, an organization that keeps donated blood in the local Philadelphia area.

Local businesses will also donate food for those who give. Bales said she was very grateful to the many local restaurants and bakeries that donated snacks last year.

Anyone who wants to give blood should call to make an appointment. Appointments will help Miller Keystone establish staffing levels for the drive. Anyone interested can make an appointment now by calling Noreen Spota at 215-248-8810 or emailing her at noreen@chestnuthill.org

Bales said the most important thing for anyone who is on the fence is to find out more by consulting Miller Keystone’s website, giveapint.org, to check your ability to give.