In partnership with the American Red Cross
The 100 Club of Chicago caught up with Deputy Keltner’s wife, Becki Keltner, following the second successful Blood Drive last Saturday.
On this past January 9th, National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, the drive had a record turnout, collecting 321 pints of blood for donation. The community came out in large numbers to honor Jake Keltner and all those who serve and have served in Law Enforcement.
The idea for the blood drive began when Becki felt the tremendous support from her own community after Jake had passed. She was simply looking for a way to give back to all those who had helped her. While Jake was in the hospital, he received several units of blood that helped keep him alive long enough for his family to come and say their goodbyes. Even in his final moments, Jake was able to give back. His blood transfusions made it possible for his tissue, bone and heart valves viable for donation to the Gift of Hope Organization.
After reading a National COPS magazine that mentioned a Blue Blood Drive, and realizing one had not been done in the area, Becki moved on the idea of hosting one of her own. Becki began the mission alone and reached out to the American Red Cross to start searching for a location to hold the drive. When discussing potential locations, American Red Cross representative asked Becki if a space to hold 30 or 40 would work. Becki left the representative in shock when she let her know they would need space to hold 200-300 people, knowing how strong the police community is and that they stick together like a family and would bring quite the crowd in support.
This year, Becki was unsure they would find a location suitable for the crowd they would bring in and just when she thought this year would be on pause, Glacier Ridge, an Elementary School in her son’s school district, offered to hold the drive. And the people did not disappoint, this year they filled all 360 spots available, showing COVID could not stop people from safely coming out to save lives.
A Blood Drive in Jake’s honor is a great way to start the new year. Becki personally loves that the drive is around the holidays, a time that can be tough when a loved one has passed, has created a new memory for her and her family to look forward to each year.
Becki was especially thankful for all the support this year, “A lot of people came out from the community, friends and family, even tons of people I didn’t know at all. This community has really supported me a lot. With COVID you don’t see very many people, but the people showed up”. She said it was the most people she had seen and talked to the entire year, almost losing her voice that day. The drive had grown from last year including sponsors such as Chick-fil-A and local Italian restaurant Cucina Bella who came out to feed all the staff and donors.
In a final note, Becki said, “It is important to show my kids, there is still good things going on in the world and that they can find a way to give back”. Her children were not in attendance this year due to COVID restrictions but they crafted little hearts to hand out at the drive to say thank you to all.
The Memorial Blue Blood Drive in honor of Jake Keltner is here to stay, the family looks forward to many years of giving back to the community and watching Jake’s memory live on.
According to the American Red Cross, one blood donation can save up to three lives, and there is a critical need for blood at the moment. Currently the American Red Cross will test blood donations for antibodies, another incentive for people to come out in January, their biggest shortage, due to seasonal sickness.