American Red Cross blood drive will be held August 6 in memory of Eric Sheffler

August 8, 2018
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Eric Sheffler on his BMX bike. Sheffler died Aug. 10, 2016, after being struck by a minivan Route 819 near Scottdale. His mother plans a Red Cross blood drive on Aug. 6. (Submitted)

Angela Orris still can’t bring herself to visit the place where her 17-year-old son lost his life two years ago.

“One day I’ll get there,” she said, “but it’s just not going to be today.”

She plans to honor Eric Sheffler’s memory by holding an American Red Cross blood drive in his name.

“The Red Cross is really hurting for young donors, so this might be a chance to get some of his friends in,” she said.

The blood drive is scheduled for 1 to 5:30 p.m. Monday at Northwood Realty, located in the Gabe’s/Harbor Freight plaza at 801 N. Greengate Road, Hempfield. It is part of the organization’s Missing Types campaign to recruit new blood donors. The campaign focuses on the need for blood types A, B and O.

The Red Cross recently issued an emergency call for blood and platelet donors.

The organization reported that more than 550 fewer blood drives were held the week of July 4 than would have been seen in a typical week, meaning as many as 15,000 fewer donations came in than than needed. Such a shortage of drives requires blood to be distributed to hospitals faster than replacement donations come in, the Red Cross reported.

Local hospitals rely on the Red Cross for their blood for patient care and emergencies, Orris said.

The Red Cross continues to face an emergency blood shortage, especially for type O blood -- the most in-demand blood type and first typically depleted from hospitals during a shortage, the organization reported.

Sheffler died Aug. 10, 2016, after being struck by a minivan while he skateboarded on state Route 819 at Round Top Circle near Scottdale. The accident happened around midnight after Orris dropped her son off at a friend’s house. No charges were filed.

“I could not donate his organs after the accident due to massive blood loss,” Orris said, “so I figured this is another way to help others through him.”

The Mt. Pleasant Township teenager was preparing to enter his senior year at Crossroads School, an alternative education program operated by the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit.

Orris said her son’s passion really was BMX bikes, not skateboarding.

“He had no interest in driving when his bike took him everywhere,” she said, noting that he would bike to school if he missed the bus.

The blood drive will coincide with the second anniversary of his death.

“This is a special way to remember him,” Orris said. “If it’s a success, I would like to do it every year.”

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