Man donating blood on his lunch hour.

Have a Few Laughs, Save a Few Lives

Cancer patients need life-saving blood through transfusions that fight their disease and counter negative side effects of treatments they receive, like chemotherapy.

Receiving the gift of life totally depends on the kindness and generosity of blood donors. Blood donation saves lives, changes lives and helps those battling cancer lead more fulfilling lives as they battle the disease.

To support a Grand Rapids community organization that provides free emotional healthcare for cancer patients, their families and loved ones, Michigan Blood, part of Versiti, is again partnering with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network to support Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids and its annual LaughFest.

Three LaughFest blood drives will be held in Grand Rapids and its surrounding communities in February:

  • 2-7 p.m. Feb. 18, King Memorial Youth Center, 225 S. Hudson St. in Lowell, MI 49331
  • 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Feb. 25, Michigan Blood Grand Rapids Donor Center, 1036 Fuller Ave. NE in Grand Rapids, MI 49503
  • 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Feb. 28, Gun Lake Casino, 1123 129th Ave. in Wayland, MI 49348 (must be 21 to donate at the casino)

Blue Care Network will donate $10 toward LaughFest’s High Five campaign in honor of each blood donor. Also, DTE Energy will provide a community match of up to $50,000 for all High Five donations. High Five supports programs that Gilda’s Club provides to cancer patients and their loved ones free of charge. Donors will also receive an exclusive LaughFest silipint glass or T-shirt and a High Five pin. They’ll also be entered to win free tickets to one of the festival’s shows.

Donating blood takes about an hour. Anyone age 17 or older in good health who meets eligibility requirements is encouraged to give. Parental consent is required for donors age 16 to give. Donors should bring a photo ID that includes their birth date.

Appointments are encouraged but walk-ins are welcome. To schedule an appointment to donate blood, call 1-866-MIBLOOD (642-5663) or visit donate.miblood.org.

LaughFest runs March 7-17. This year’s lineup includes comedians Loni Love, Ali Wong, Brian Regan, Brad Upton, Jo Koy, Matt Bellassai and Nate Bargatze. More than 50,000 people attend the 10-day comedy festival each year. Created in 2011, the festival features stand-up, improvisation, showcases and more and proceeds benefit the programs and services offered through Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids.

“Michigan Blood and Blue Care Network are committed to the health and well-being of our community,” said Wendy Wigger, president of Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids. “These blood drives are a great opportunity for West Michigan to help those needing life-saving blood while providing support for the cancer and grief programs offered through Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids.”

An affiliate of the Cancer Support Community, Gilda’s Club is named after Emmy Award-winning actress Gilda Radner, a Michigan native and “Saturday Night Live” star who died of ovarian cancer in 1989.

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Photo credit: Steve Debenport

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