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Inspiring Stories of 2021

It’s hard to believe another year has come and is almost gone. As we continued to cope with the realities of the pandemic, Red Cross volunteers, staff, and community members continued to support and uplift their neighbors in special ways. To share their experiences, we kicked off a social media series called #StoriesThatInspire. These will surely tug at your heartstrings.

Emily hosts blood drives for her mom after an accident

When you donate blood, you may never know whose life you are saving, but that person and their family members will forever be grateful for your donation. Emily Johnson was three years old when her mother almost died in an accident and received emergency blood transfusions on the way to the hospital. Now, Emily hosts Red Cross blood drives in her community to raise awareness of the need for lifesaving blood. Read more about Emily’s story and how she encourages donors.

Cleveland became a CPR Instructor after his grandson’s medical emergency

The more people who are trained in CPR, the more heroes are out there who can save lives. Cleveland Fontenot made this his mission after his 16-year-old grandson survived a sudden cardiac arrest while playing basketball. He got re-certified in CPR, became an instructor, and now, as a Red Cross Instructor Trainer, he can train instructors to train others. Find out how three strangers saved his grandson’s life.

Lori teaches kids water safety after her own daughter’s tragic drowning accident

Lori Cerami could never have imagined that her 13-year-old daughter Elise, a competitive swimmer, would drown in a public pool. This personal tragedy led her to start the Swim4Elise Foundation, which is dedicated to teaching kids skills for water-related emergencies so they are trained and prepared to respond. Her goal is to prevent other families from suffering the same heartbreak. Read more about Lori’s motivation.

Karen created a foundation to help families with water safety after her son’s accident

Sadly, many parents learn drowning statistics when it’s too late. Karen Crohn and her family started The ZAC Foundation after their son Zachary, 6, drowned in their backyard pool when his arm became trapped in the drain. The foundation now partners with the Red Cross to help update its swim app with content around drowning prevention and water safety. Read Karen’s story.

Terri is a cancer survivor who donates blood to help others in need

Dr. Terri Williams thought she couldn’t donate blood after surviving breast cancer. However, after a visit to a Red Cross blood drive at her church, she learned that not only was she still eligible, but that her blood is critical for treating people with sickle cell disease, which is more common among African Americans. She even started donating more regularly as Black communities were hit particularly hard by COVID-19. Find out the blood donation milestone Dr. Terri achieved.

Walter and his therapy dog support incarcerated veterans through resiliency workshops

Choppy is a therapy dog who has been serving the Red Cross with her human, Walter, for three years in the Missouri and Arkansas area. No matter where she goes – whether to blood drives to help donors relax or to prisons to help veterans at resiliency workshops – her presence relieves the stress and anxiety of all who meet her. Learn more about how Choppy comforts and cares for veterans.

Meara helped families after a devastating building collapse

When Meara Lebovitz started volunteering for the Red Cross, she had no idea about disaster spiritual care (DSC). That discovery led her down a path to becoming a Cantor in Rockland County, N.Y., and a DSC volunteer. She recently deployed to the Surfside building collapse to provide pastoral care and spiritual support to those affected and first responders. Read more about Meara’s experience in Surfside.

Diana received support as a refugee before becoming a volunteer

Diane Bahati’s family fled from the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo when she was just a baby. They spent about a year at a refugee camp where there were not a lot of resources, but her parents remember the Red Cross providing many things to help the refugees get by. Learn how Diane is now paying it forward as a Red Cross volunteer.

Catch more of our #StoriesThatInspire series by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.