Red Cross blood drive in Annapolis honors slain Capital Gazette reporter

A Red Cross blood drive at Bates Middle School in Annapolis was held in honor of Wendi Winters, a Capital Gazette reporter killed in the newsroom shooting earlier this year who spent a lot of time volunteering at various blood drives.

WASHINGTON — There were big goals centered on a blood drive being held for someone with a big heart.

A blood drive being held Saturday at Bates Middle School in Annapolis already had 170 people signed up to give, with more walk-ins expected — an enormous turnout compared to the far smaller crowds that these events typically draw.

It’s reflective of the spirit of Wendi Winters, a Capital Gazette reporter killed in the newsroom shooting earlier this year, and someone who spent so much time helping the Red Cross with previous blood drives.

“Wendi Winters was a wonderful volunteer for the American Red Cross,” said Scott Salemme, a regional CEO with the American Red Cross. “There’s always a need for blood in our community.”

Salemme says Saturday’s event became even more important because so many other blood drives in the mid-Atlantic region were canceled because of the hurricane in the Carolinas. 

“I can’t believe how large it is. It’s so exciting to see all these people here,” said Summer Leigh Geimer, Winter’s daughter. “It means so much and I’m sure Mom would have been thrilled if she could have had a turnout like this while she was doing it herself. I think the fact that she was able to inspire this says a lot.”

Geimer said a “good day” at the blood drives her mother used to work would only see about 40 donors. Sometimes Winters herself would be one of those donors.

“It’ll be different,” admitted Geimer. “The last time I gave blood I had Mom hovering around me, joking with me, so it’ll certainly be different.”

Among the first people in line to donate this morning were Jenna and Karen Gipple of Arnold, Maryland, a mother and daughter who knew Winters.

“Jenna went to school, was in scouts with her daughter” said Karen.

This was Jenna’s first time donating blood.

“I never really thought about it before. I thought it was a good time to do it,” she said. “I feel like [Winters] was always giving back to the community, so I feel like people [here are] doing the same thing in her honor I guess.”

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