Since its inception in 1986, the Ohio Valley Media Day Blood Drive has collected 20,768 units of blood for those in need.
To add to that total, American Red Cross officials are scheduled to hold the 26th Media Day drive from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling. This year's goal is 600 units of blood.
The blood drive is in honor of the Holtz family, originally of Cameron, with three generations of family members who know the importance of blood donors.
Larry Holtz Jr., his son Larry Holtz III and Larry III's daughter, 6-year-old Gabby, all have either received or will need to receive blood transfusions for different medical conditions. Larry Holtz Jr., and his wife, Doris, currently live in Cameron.
His son Larry Holtz III is also originally from Cameron and lives in the Pittsburgh area with his wife, Lori, and their three daughters.
Larry Holtz Jr. has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, apparently the result of years of occupational exposure to silica dust and other chemicals, and is on the waiting list for a double lung transplant.
He will require transfusions of blood and blood products during that procedure.
His son, Larry Holtz III, has a G6PD genetic enzyme deficiency, a condition that results in abnormal red cell breakdown, and required several blood transfusions as a child.
Larry III's mother Doris said, "I believe with all my heart if Larry had not received blood transfusions, he would not have survived."
Since his diagnosis in childhood, Larry III has been able to control his condition by limiting exposure to certain environmental factors that can trigger a reaction. His brother, Hans, also has the same genetic condition and also required blood transfusions.
Larry III's daughter, Gabby, was recently diagnosed with embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, which is a rare form of cancer that affects the muscles. She has received multiple transfusions of blood and blood products as part of her medical treatment, and will continue to need them until her cancer treatments are completed. Gabby said that after she gets a blood transfusion, she feels better.
The Holtz family agreed to have the blood drive in their honor to help create awareness of the need for blood and blood transfusions.
"Once you are a parent, you would hate to have another parent not be able to have their child receive the treatment they need," Larry Holtz III said.
"Blood transfusions not only help the person receiving the blood, but it benefits the whole family," Larry Holtz Jr. said.
The blood drive includes popular features such as:
A banner for blood donors to sign will be available; the banner will be sent to the Holtz family following the blood drive.