Former U.S. Marine Scot Gardner is battling cancer in a Georgia hospital, but his family and friends from Fountain City, IN felt closer to him on Wednesday, May 1 when they celebrated his birthday by donating in his honor at the Richmond Community Blood Center.
Scot’s family sponsored the drive as a celebration of his 43rd birthday. His parents Larry and Cheryl Gardner and sister Deanna Forrest spent the day greeting donors, sharing birthday cake and refreshments, and giving updates on Scot’s condition.
The blood drive received enthusiastic support with 33 people registering to donate, including nine first-time donors, and 26 donations for 200 percent of the collection goal.
Scot is a 1988 graduate of Northeastern High School, where he competed in cross country and track. He also competed at Ball State University before joining the U.S. Marine Corps. He served four years with the Marines and went to work at a Georgia paper mill.
Scot was diagnosed with colon cancer in August, 2012. Since then he has undergone two surgeries and a series of chemotherapy treatments. His sister Deanna works in the rehabilitation department at Reid Hospital in Richmond and is a blood donor and proposed the idea of a blood drive.
“We had just gotten back from Georgia for his second surgery and said ‘We’ve got to do something,’” said Deanna. “We know he had to have blood too in his surgeries,” said Cheryl. “So we wanted to do what we can, even though we are so far apart.”
Scot was only 42 years old when he was diagnosed, which is eight years younger than the recommended age for a colonoscopy. “He’s a runner,” said Cheryl. “He was a healthy person. He was having pain. They did a CAT scan and that’s when they found it.”
Promoting health screenings became one of their goals for hosting a blood drive. “It would let people know that he had colon cancer at such a young age,” Cheryl said. “Younger than when they recommend ordinary screening.”
Scot’s cousin Beth Beard from Rushville made her first blood donation at the birthday blood drive. “Nervous? Not really,” she said. “I work in the medical field so I’m fine!”
Lori Sanders, a co-worker of Deanna’s at Richmond Hospital, didn’t know Scot but wanted to support him and the family. “I know ‘D’ – that’s what we call Deanna,” she said. “I try to get in here when I can (to donate) and this was a good reason to come.”