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Sunnie , dubbed their “social media maven” by Vitalant Pittsburgh staff, was nominated by them for national recognition. She was accepted into the 2020 Fresenius Kabi Donation Hall of Fame, which recognizes individuals nationwide who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to blood donation.

Unfortunately, the pandemic delayed Sunnie’s official recognition until 2021. The delay didn’t dim Sunnie’s or the staff members’ enthusiasm, though, as she was presented with her award and heartfelt thanks for being an inspiration.

“Everyone here is an inspiration to me—other donors, people who work here. You keep me coming back,” Sunnie said.

Sunnie not only donates platelets as often as she can, but also frequently promotes platelet donation on her Facebook page. Before the pandemic, she helped the donation center launch a new concept called “platelet parties” by being the first hostess and hopes to continue that work soon.

“I really try to spread the word as much as I can,” she said.

Like many donors, Sunnie was inspired to donate because of personal connections. After two of her close friends were diagnosed with leukemia, she stopped by her local Vitalant donation center with the intention of becoming a frequent blood donor.

“I couldn’t do much more for my friends than send cards at that point, so I thought I would give back by donating blood. When they told me about platelet donation and how it often helps cancer patients, I decided I would donate them regularly in honor of my friends.”

Ever since, Saturday morning platelet donations have become Sunnie’s ritual. She donates every two to three weeks when she’s eligible and didn’t let the pandemic stop her.

“Every time I donate, I feel energized. I never feel like I’m a hero. I feel so appreciative for my life and grateful that I can help someone else.

“Everyone knows someone who’s had cancer. This is your way to honor them, by helping other cancer patients who are fighting for their lives.”

Article published for the Vital Donor newsletter.