Day of Encouragement blood drive by friends united through hard times and hope

Photo of Christine Lafave Grace and her friend Rachel Helfrich Tobin
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“We figure what better way to encourage people than by giving the gift of life? And that’s really what the blood drive is,” said Naperville native Christine LaFave Grace.

How Christine and Rachel’s friendship began

Rachel takes picture with family members

Grace and her friend Rachel Helfrich Tobin are holding a blood drive at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Naperville on the National Day of Encouragement, September 12.

The date for the event seemed fitting to the two in a number of ways. Their friendship took root during a time of tragedy for both, and they continue to encourage each other as they face a similar life challenge again.

“I met my friend Rachel through a program called SHARE over at Edward Hospital back in 2014. Both of us are lost parents. Both of us have lost a son while we were pregnant or during early infancy. And it happened as we’ve kept in touch over the years that my husband this summer found out that he will need a kidney transplant, and her mom actually needs a kidney, too, and is on the waiting list up at University of Wisconsin, Madison,” said LaFave Grace.

Motivating others to be “superheroes” in saving lives

Christine LaFave Grace with her son and husband

Christine with her husband, Joe, and son, Colin

Though initially bonded through sadness, they’ve also celebrated life’s joys together, each having newborn sons two weeks apart in 2016. The upcoming blood drive is another bright spot in their friendship as they look to motivate others to make a difference, whether through donating blood or by becoming organ and tissue donors.

“When someone you love is diagnosed with a chronic disease or with a condition that’s going to need something like a transplant, you can kind of feel helpless in some ways. And Rachel and I are both people of action. And to us, a blood drive is something that we can do, not just for our loved ones, but there is so much need for blood donors, for organ donors in in the country that anything we can do, good will come out of this,” said LaFave Grace.

“You have an opportunity to save someone else’s life with little risk to yourself. And I think that that’s what we have to remind ourselves. We’re always looking for superheroes, and we can be our own,” said Helfrich Tobin.

Blood drive part of a helping others initiative

The blood drive will be part of a ten-day initiative focused on acts to help others held by Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church.

“All the congregations who are part of that church celebrate something called God’s work Our hands, and it’s about taking a day as a congregation to love and serve our neighbor. This is the 10th anniversary of that, and so we thought, why not spend ten days in honor of the 10th anniversary to love and serve in all kinds of different ways? So the blood drive is a big part of that,” said Pastor Elisabeth Pynn Himmelman.

Hosted in partnership with Versiti of Illinois, the blood drive will occur indoors in Our Saviour’s Luther Court from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. On hand will be snacks, cookies, and even a pie contest.

Anyone eligible is invited to come out to donate: registration for the blood drive can be done through the Versiti website.

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