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Why They Donate: Eagles, Accidents, Injuries and Illnesses
By Jeffery Diffy, ASBP Blood Donor Recruiter, North Chicago, Ill.
Pictured from left to right are: Seaman Recruits Nicole Frisella, Kea Bekkedahl, Blake Jackson and Spencer Goodmansen. All four recruits donated blood with the Armed Services Blood Program while attending boot camp at Great Lakes, Ill. Each has a separate reason to donate, but all four of them have the same goal of helping others with their blood donation.
The reasons for blood donation are as varied as the donors that frequent the many Armed Services Blood Program blood donor centers. Recently, four recruits attending boot camp in Great Lakes, Ill., took time to describe the experiences that motivated them to donate blood. From civic duty to family pride, the personal reasons are important to every blood donor. Together, these four stories describe four reasons to donate.
Seaman Recruit James Goodmansen II
Goodmansen enlisted in the U.S. Navy in Rigby, Idaho, and will serve as a nuclear engineer after attending “A” school in Charleston, S.C.
He was selected as the Eagle Scout of the Year in Idaho in 2012, and received several awards from the Boys Scouts of America before he enlisted in the U.S. Navy.
“I have donated both blood and plasma in the past and will keep donating blood,” he said. “I made Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts of America in 2011. On Dec. 23, 2010, I set up a blood drive with another organization to help others. This was my Eagle Scout project. Sixty people donated blood that day.”
According to Goodmansen, he knew just how important blood collections are during the holiday season. For most blood collection organizations, blood donations drop off during the winter months.
“We picked the day of the blood drive as Dec. 23, 2010, so that we could give the gift of life during that season,” Goodmansen said. “My family was also a big part of my Eagle Scout project. They even donated blood as well.”
But his Eagle Scout project wasn’t the first time that Goodmansen realized that he wanted to do whatever he could to help people in need.
“I worked as a missionary with my church in the Philippines. I got to see the lifestyles of those people who have so much less than we do,” he said. “I also got to see the many major medical conditions there. I do my part to help those who are in need.”
Seaman Recruit Kea Bekkedahl
Bekkedahl donates blood to help others who endured injuries as her father did when a drunk driver hit him while driving.
“My dad, Larry K. Bekkedahl, was driving his Volkswagen beetle near Ketchum, Idaho, when a drunk driver hit my dad’s car and flipped him over,” she said. “My dad was rushed to the hospital, but had lost so much blood that he nearly died.”
Her father’s spleen was removed; however, his rare blood type made it challenging to keep enough blood on hand for him.
“The hospital almost ran out of blood while saving my dad’s life,” she said. “I’m thankful for the donors that donated. My dad is alive today because they did.”
Bekkedahl will attend “A” school as an intelligence specialist in Virginia Beach, Va., after graduating boot camp Feb. 10.
Seaman Recruit Nicole Frissela
Frissela attributes blood donors to saving her dad’s life, which in turn enabled her parents to meet.
“When my dad was in his 20s — and in the days before large trucks required back-up signals — my dad, Anthony Frissela, was struck and pinned under a large truck while working at a distribution center,” she said.
One of his main arteries ruptured during the accident and he lost a lot of blood. He also had nerve damage and broken bones.
“Back then, the surgery did not have a very high success rate with these types of injuries,” Frissela said. “But doctors were able to save him and his leg.”
Although her dad is still dealing with the effects of the injury today, Frissela said she is thankful that he was given the chance to live.
“I am too, since I wouldn’t be here now if blood donors hadn’t donated blood back then,” she said.
When she isn’t training in boot camp, Frissela said she enjoys life and spending time with her husband and her family.
Seaman Recruit Blake Jackson
Jackson donates blood because others may have an unexpected illness that suddenly creates the need for blood — just like his grandmother, Mary Jane Hanna, did.
In 2015, Hanna suffered several heart attacks followed by a few minor strokes. She was hospitalized for two to three months. After the first heart attack, she required blood transfusions and after her stroke, she required more from a bleeding problem that occurred on the left side of her head.
“Today my grandmother is doing fine, she just tires out easily,” Jackson said. “I’m happy she is still here to see me serve in the U.S. Navy.”
Jackson is a food-carver during his time in boot camp at Great Lakes, Ill. He is also part of the triple-threat drill team that performs for graduating groups each week. He looks forward to his post-graduation training in San Antonio, Texas. He is preparing to be a master-at-arms in the Navy.
He says she “used to hang-out with friends, work on trucks and target shoot,” but now he looks forward to serving in the military and will donate blood at her first command.
These four recruits arrived in Great Lakes, Ill., for boot camp just a few weeks ago. Each has seen someone they know donate for others, or use the blood that others donated to save the life of a loved one. The reasons to donate are endless, and the gratefulness from blood recipients is unmeasurable.
About the Armed Services Blood Program
Since 1962, the Armed Services Blood Program has served as the sole provider of blood for the United States military. As a tri-service organization, the ASBP collects, processes, stores and distributes blood and blood products to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and their families worldwide. As one of four national blood collection organizations trusted to ensure the nation has a safe, potent blood supply, the ASBP works closely with our civilian counterparts by sharing donors on military installations where there are no military blood collection centers and by sharing blood products in times of need to maximize availability of this national treasure. To find out more about the ASBP or to schedule an appointment to donate, please visit
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