CHARLESTON — Boy Scout Michael Drake of Charleston recently garnered 58 units of blood at a blood drive he assembled in honor of his late father.
Michael, 16, hosted the event on Jan. 2 as an Eagle Scout project for his Boy Scout Troop 141.
The blood drive took place a day after his father, Mike Drake, died after battling stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer.
Michael, a sophomore at Charleston High School and a Senior Patrol Leader for Boy Scout Troop 141, said he continued with the blood drive because it’s what his father would have wanted.
“My dad was the person who originally had the idea for the blood drive and he said ‘Regardless of what happens to me, you need to do this,’” Michael said.
The idea for the blood drive came about when Michael and his father were brainstorming ideas for his Eagle Scout project. Michael said his dad was an avid blood donor before he got sick.
There are multiple requirements for a Boy Scout to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.
According to the National Eagle Scout Association, in order to be honored with the Eagle Scout rank, one of the tasks a Boy Scout must perform is to “Plan, develop, and give leadership to a service project for any religious organization or any school or community.”
Mike, 50, who was the Assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 141, had received multiple blood transfusions since his cancer diagnosis in 2011, so for his son Michael it only seemed right to center his Eagle Scout project around someone so close to his heart.
“Mike wanted to be there and I think he knew it would be successful,” said Lynette Drake, Michael’s mother. “He was there — he was just watching from a different angle.”
The blood drive was an event that Michael organized on his own and he held it at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Charleston, where Michael partnered with the Community Blood Services of Illinois from Urbana.
Community Blood Services of Illinois is also the organization from which Michael’s father received blood transfusions.
Michael said he had expected around 30 people to donate blood but quickly found that a lot more people were willing to donate to the cause and support his family in their time of need.
“It was an amazing feeling to see all these people coming out to donate and the fact that it was Dad’s idea made it even better,” Michael said.
Some 65 community members donated blood and Michael said he even tried to donate for the cause, although he was unsuccessful.
“I attempted to donate for the first time; they tried twice but it didn’t work and my face started to turn white,” Michael said with a laugh.
Hannah Drake, Michael’s sister, and their mother Lynette also donated blood for the cause.
Lynette said even though Mike couldn’t be at the blood drive, she knew he was there in spirit.
“Mike wanted people to celebrate his life and as a family we are trying to look on the positive side,” Lynette said. “I’m not saying it doesn’t hurt, but we have each other to lean on.”
Michael said he hopes to continue to organize annual blood drives in the community with his fellow Boy Scouts.
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