• Hunting widows turn out in force for basket party
    By SARAH HINCKLEY Herald Staff | November 15,2006
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    There were hunting widows, children and a few men maybe they'd already tagged theirs at the Castleton Legion Post 50 on Sunday afternoon, waiting to win the basket of their choice.

    The crowd of about 150 people was bigger than organizers had expected for their first Hunting Widows Basket Party. When the drawings were done, the event had raised $2,400, all of which will go to the Marrow Donor Program at Rutland Regional Medical Center.

    It was the second basket party the Fair Haven Eagles Auxiliary had hosted and Auxiliary Officer Lisa Thayer was impressed with the turnout.

    "We didn't have this many people," she said about the organization's party in May. "We had to pull out more chairs. Basket parties are getting to be a big thing in this area."

    Ladies from the group had packaged 96 baskets with an assortment of donated items from Rutland County businesses and individuals. Participants received a sheet of 20 tickets in exchange for the entry fee. The baskets were lined up on tables with small bags in front of them for people to put tickets into if they wanted to qualify to win a specific basket. Participants could buy as many additional sheets of tickets as wanted.

    The small hand of Thayer's son Michael, 5, pulled out the winning tickets while she called off the numbers. Even though his mom told him not to look, Michael admitted to peeking into the bag to pick the tickets. But not knowing many people in the crowd made the move a lesser offense.

    Volunteers from the Marrow Donor Program were set up at a table accepting new applications to qualify for the marrow donor registry.

    Kerry Ellis, RRMC marrow donor program coordinator, sat with Tera Dianne and reviewed her application. Dianne then participated in a swab test, which will be submitted to find out if she qualifies for the registry.

    "If this saves somebody's life, I want to join," Dianne said about becoming a donor. "I'd want somebody there for me if I needed it."

    Since its inception in 1998, the marrow donor program at RRMC has added 1,300 names to the registry. The program is the only one of its kind offered in the region where people do not pay to register. This is possible because of the fund-raising done at drives like the one at the Legion Post on Sunday.

    "Your chances of being a match are about one in 2 million. It's about the same as winning the lottery," Ellis told one crowd member. "Every day there are about 5,000 people searching the registry looking for a match."

    Bone marrow donors are needed for treating life-threatening blood diseases each year. Nearly 30,000 people, adults and children, are diagnosed each year and although 30 percent search for a donor within their family, 70 percent must search for an unrelated donor.

    Coordinating the help of the auxiliary, the use of the Legion Post, the collection of gifts and packaging of prize baskets was done in large part by program volunteer Morgan Tyminski. She "inherited the project" when her mother underwent unexpected surgery earlier in the week. It was Tyminski who asked the auxiliary ladies to help with the basket party because of their experience.

    "We just helped do it because we've done it before," Thayer said. "It's just people helping people."

    Two more drives are planned before the end of the year one at Green Mountain College and another at the Paramount Theatre. For more information, call Kerry Ellis at 747-6267.

    Contact Sarah Hinckley at sarah.hinckley@rutlandherald.com
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