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Blood donor looks to celebrate Cloverdale clinic's sixth anniversary

Mike Garisto, a member of Precious Blood Parish and the Knights of Columbus, is looking forward to his 25th donation of blood at the Cloverdale clinic.  - File
Mike Garisto, a member of Precious Blood Parish and the Knights of Columbus, is looking forward to his 25th donation of blood at the Cloverdale clinic.
— image credit: File

The Cloverdale Blood Donor Clinic celebrates its sixth anniversary this Sunday, and to mark the occasion one of the regular donors is dragging along 25 friends to give blood, too.

Mike Garisto will be rolling up his sleeve to donate blood for the 25th time this Sunday, so he's bringing along 25 friends to mark the occasion.

It also happens to be the sixth anniversary of the Canadian Blood Donor Clinic in Cloverdale.

Garisto was instrumental in getting the mobile clinic set up at Sacred Blood Parish at 17475 59 Avenue.

The Red Cross used to operate a donor clinic in Cloverdale, but it was discontinued for a time when Canadian Blood Services took over. When it resurfaced, the first clinic was held at Shannon Hall. Garisto was there to donate blood for the first time in his life.

In doing so, he was making good on a promise he'd made 37 years earlier, when he was a boy of 10.

One day, as a school fundraiser, he was out selling candy bars to his neighbours.

The mother of some of his school chums agreed to buy one – provided he agreed to something in return.

"I said sure," Garisto recalls, explaining that something was to become a blood donor one day, when he was old enough.

"I always remembered the commitment I made and never did anything about it."

Fast forward three decades. Now a father himself, his promise came rushing back when two girls at his daughters' school were struck by cancer.

After making his first donation of blood, he called Canadian Blood Services and told them he'd like to do more.

As Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus, he convinced his fellow Knights to sponsor the next few Cloverdale blood clinics at Sacred Blood Parish, his church, an arrangement that blossomed into something much more permanent with Canadian Blood Services. Clinics are held here about six times a year.

And six years later, close to 3,500 units of blood have been donated at the Cloverdale clinic.

"The community really responded," he says.

On Sunday, one regular donor will give blood for her 90th time.

Perhaps one day, Garisto will close in on that record.

Meantime, he hopes to track down the woman he sold that candy bar to all those years ago.

"I would love to do it, to tell her that story. The challenge she put out and what I did."

He's hopeful he'll locate her.

"All it was, was a chocolate bar," he said. "I guess I've lived up to her challenge to me."

Additional 2014 Cloverdale Blood Donor Clinics are slated for May 11, July 6, Aug. 31, Oct. 26 and Dec. 21.

For more information and to book an appointment (recommended), visit www.blood.ca, or call 1-888-2-DONATE.

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