EATON — When West Alexandria’s Mindy Jones lost her husband Vincent to blood cancer it became her mission to make it “a ripple effect” of helping save lives and leaving a legacy to her sons of the father they barely knew. The ripple grew wider Saturday, June 24 with a flood of support for the second annual Vincent Jones Memorial Blood Drive at the Eaton Church of God.
Mindy credits blood donations for helping Vincent live long enough to meet their second son Jeremiah. He was born June 11, 2016, just 13 days before Vincent lost his battle with leukemia. She hosted the first Community Blood Center blood drive in Vincent’s memory last August.
It was Mindy’s private hope that the second memorial blood drive would grow to at least 50 blood donations. She knew Vincent had used that many units of blood and more. Her family, friends, church and community members all rewarded her dedication with 67 donors and 54 donations, including 17 first-time donors, for 129 percent of the collection goal.
That result nearly doubled the original goal of the blood drive. “We added slots three times,” said Mindy. “We had them all filled and we had a waiting list. I wanted to be the first one to give.”
Her family and friends provided an army of support, wearing orange t-shirts and wrist bands, the color for leukemia awareness. IHOP led a slate of local sponsors in providing a pancake and sausage breakfast with fruit and whipped cream toppings in the Donor Café.
An unexpected joy for Mindy was when her mother Sue Williams was able to donate. “I did not sign up, but a couple of friends came over and said they were deferred,” said Sue. “I thought I could probably give. It was my first time and it went pretty smooth!”
The blood drive was opportunity for Spencer Decker to make his first lifetime donation. He became friends with Vincent’s brother Craig Jones, an Eaton Police officer, while helping train police canines. Spencer’s wife Wendy also donated.
Eaton Police Officer Lucas Schlumpf supported the blood drive with his first lifetime donation. “Anything I can do to help,” said Lucas. “Craig recommended I come up here, and someone is covering my shift.”
Mindy is a Spanish teacher at Tri-County North School and is working part time again with Gasper Township Fire & EMS. “While Vincent was in the hospital they did a big fundraiser for us,” said Mindy. “They did the #Vincent Strong t-shirt and I use that hashtag on all my social media posts.”
She’ll dedicate her network of recruiting blood donors to support a new blood drive at the Eaton Church of God planned for Jan. 6, 2018. “It’s right after the holidays, so it’s a really important time to give,” he said. “The Vincent Jones blood drive will be in June and we’ll have more slots next year.”
“I have cried for myself and I cry most for my boys” said Mindy. “Gabriel (age four) say’s “I don’t remember me with daddy.’ But I keep saying it’s the ripple effect. Maybe this will lead to helping someone else. Who knows, maybe someone who goes on to find a cure for leukemia. That’s ‘Vincent Strong.’”