Herald JournalHerald Journal, Aug. 1, 2005

Winsted Fire Department hopes to add 50 names to bone marrow donor list

By Ryan Gueningsman
Staff Writer

Using the Winsted Summer Festival as its launching pad, the Winsted Fire Department is hoping to inspire people to add their names to the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry.

“We’ve set a goal to assemble 50 people that are willing to add themselves to the program,” said Winsted Fire Chief Paul Herbolsheimer. A bone marrow drive, which is what the fire department wishes to have, costs between $25 and $65 per donor, and all it takes for a person to become a donor is to provide a blood sample. The fire department is set to auction off haircuts of firefighters and other Winsted locals to offset the costs of the drive.

This is not the first time the fire department has combined haircutting with a bone marrow drive. In 2001, a successful event took place in conjunction with the Winsted Summer Festival. People bid on the chance to give a haircut to their favorite firefighter or other local “celebrities.”

“Currently, more than 1,400 patients receive transplants through the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) each year,” Herbolsheimer said. “However, the number of people who could benefit from this life-saving treatment is several times greater, and the NMDP along with the Winsted Fire Department, are working to close that gap.”

The fire department has set up a bone marrow drive in conjunction with the American Red Cross Bloodmobile that will be in Winsted Tuesday, Oct. 11 at the fire hall. The event at the summer festival following the parade is intended to raise awareness for the bone marrow drive, as well as to raise funds.

“The highest bidder will actually give one of our volunteers the ultimate haircut and shave him bald,” Herbolsheimer said.

A second goal the fire department has set is to raise money for the web site www.caringbridge.org, and it hopes to become the first volunteer fire department to be a sponsor of the site.

“We feel it’s an invaluable service to local patients at Twin Cities hospitals,” Herbolsheimer said, noting the web site allows families to post condition updates for victims, as well as allow well-wishers to post greetings and messages to the victim and his or her family.

He said if enough funds are raised to have the bone marrow drive, and become a sponsor of caringbridge.org, the remainder of the money collected will be given to the Children’s Miracle Network.

Donations toward the fire department’s efforts can be sent to:

Winsted Fire Department Relief Association, C/O Haircut Fund, PO Box 298, Winsted, MN 55395

Any questions about the events can be directed to Herbolsheimer at (320) 485-4210.

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