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Marathon to showcase blood donations
Program teaches children about blood drives and healthy lifestyles
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Five Points to Life Kids Marathon

When: 9 a.m. Saturday
Where: Gwinnett Braves Coolray Field, 1 Braves Ave., Lawrenceville
How much: Free
Register: Online or 352-224-1728

Running a marathon is a feat even for the best athletes, but more than 100 children from the area will be finishing a marathon they’ve been running all year this weekend.

Life South Community Blood Centers will have the first Five Points of Life Kids Marathon in Georgia this Saturday at the Gwinnett Braves’ Coolray Field.

The marathon is in conjunction with the Five Points of Life in the Classroom program that educates children about blood donations. The “five points to life” are blood, platelets, marrow, cord blood and organ and tissue donations.

The event is free and children in kindergarten though the 12th grade are encouraged to attend.

“The kids don’t really run a marathon. They’ll run the last 1.2 miles as if they ran a marathon,” Michael Becker, district community development coordinator, said.

Children were asked to log their physical activity on a sheet of paper during the school year. Students ran a little bit at a time so that it would amount to 25 miles before the marathon.

Becker said he hopes the marathon will encourage children to live healthier lifestyles, especially in an age of childhood obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

“The kids marathon was born out of the program to try and build a healthier generation,” Life South Regional Manager at Gainesville Center Brandon Fey said.

Everyone who participates will receive a medal and a T-shirt. So far 137 people have registered to run.

Representatives of Life South will be at the event explaining the importance of blood donation.

The bloodmobile will also be there, but it won’t be taking any donations. Children will be allowed to climb inside and get to see how it works so that when they’re old enough to donate they already know the process.

“It’s not going to be a training session or a teaching session, just information to plant the seed,” Becker said.

Blood donations are always needed.

A donation of whole blood will only last 42 days before going bad, but the need for blood is so high donations rarely spoil. The biggest risk, Becker said, is not having enough blood for someone whose life depends on it.

“The reason this is so important is 37 percent of the population overall is eligible to donate but only 5 percent do,” Becker said.

The Five Points to Life program has a goal of creating “the donation generation.” By teaching children about blood donation at an early age, they’ll be familiar with it and donate all through their lives once they’re old enough.

To donate blood a person must be 17 years old. A 16-year-old can donate with parental consent.

A high percentage of blood donations comes from young people. The largest group of donors is high school students, Becker said.

Fey said he thinks the reason more young people donate is because of civic duty. He said the desire to help the community is coming back around with the younger generations.

“You can just donate 45 minutes of your time and do your civic duty,” Fey said.

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