Monday, June 13, 2016

Hello Orlando.

We arrived in Orlando on the 10th.  On the 11th before we picked up Katherine, we learned about the murder of a pop star after her show... here in Orlando.  On the 12th, we woke up to the news of the Pulse mass murder... here in Orlando.

So the 12th we spent at OneBlood at 345 W. Michigan... here in Orlando.

We started about 10 people from the door,
arriving at ~9:45 a.m. Within minutes,
the line was down the block.
By hour 2 we were half way through the inner line.
Those not as lucky to be indoors suffered the sun
and humidity outside. The donations started rolling in.
Target, Publix, ChikFilA, Little Caesar's, Papa John's, Pizza Hut...
burritos, cupcakes, ice, fruit, salads...
sunscreen and umbrellas..
The community kicked in from every angle.
6 hours in we'd made it around the interior and
approaching the desk for registration. We arrived at 9:45 a.m.
There were hundreds and hundreds of people behind us.
Several blood buses were brought in to help out.
The staff was overwhelmed.
Finally registered!
We carved out a little area to the side of the desk
where the a/c from the adjoining room came in and
we had room to sit while waiting for our names to be called.
7 hours passed.
Finally plugged in! Nicholas was a little nervous
as he's had near misses with passing out at the sight
of blood in the past.
Katherine is an old hand, having donated several
times already.
It's a big needle going in AND coming out.
Yeah, big needle.
Yup, still a big needle.
And success.  Nicholas needed a few extra minutes
to manage the light-headedness. Becca soared through
her first donation.
The girls got shirts.
As far as we could tell, we were the only large family waiting.  At the end of the day, literally 8.5 hours after we arrived, only three of us actually gave blood. Jonathon is too young at 14. Ian had the audacity to travel to Ebola and Malaria countries in the past few months. And I have weak, cold blood... my iron levels were low. Again.

The spirit of the folks at the donation center was uplifting, and though by the time we made it through (as some of the first people to arrive and not getting blood taken until after 5 p.m.) I'm not sure how the staff managed.  Several were there long before we were, and knew they'd be there until midnight or later.  But they were still smiling and kind. A lot of potential donors left as the hours ticked by, but even more stayed.

It's not how we'd planned to spend our Sunday, day #2, in Orlando, but as Katherine said on Facebook:

I went to Orlando, FL and all I for was this crappy teeshirt. :)

In all honestly though, I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else on earth today. Almost 9 hours at the blood bank, I witnessed the power of a community with such volume words cannot explain. Trucks full of drinks and food came in all day to feed and water the exhausted donors, an uncountable number of television stations broadcasted the day, police were there for hours in the sun keeping us safe with a perimeter.

The nurses that worked there had been up since 4am preparing for today. Families who you could tell hardly had enough to spare themselves donated resources.

It's not a day at the beach. It's not a day at Universal Studios. But it was where we belonged today.