They are Heartland Heroes because they give the gift of life. One woman did recognize the difference they made in her life. Now they are being honored.
Christi Nielsen needed heroes in her life while she battled congestive heart failure. For twelve years the blood transfusions she received helped her live her life.
Christi knew the people who donated blood were the difference between life and death for her.
This past fall Christi died and her family found a poem she had written to all those anonymous donors.
Marge Keller and Todd Banchor know the words Christi wrote to them and all the people who donated the blood she needed to live but they don't see themselves in the same light.
Christi Nielsen considered them heroes they give themselves much less credit. Marge believes Christi is the real hero of this story.
Marge Keller says, "To me those are the real heroes the people that are fighting these diseases and keep on with as normal a life as they can."
With the help of Marge and Todd and countless others Christi received an extra 12 years with her family and friends. The Red Cross calls it the gift of life but there are precious few who take the time to donate blood.
Being honored as a hero isn't why Todd started donating blood nearly three decades ago but knowing he made a difference makes him feel like he is doing his part and he wants others to share in that feeling.
Todd Banchor says, "You hope that if somebody you care about, a close friend, a family member or whatever needed blood you hope that somebody else would be willing to do something like that."
The difference it made in Christi's life and the lives of all who loved her is immeasurable but Christi understood everyone who helped her stay alive is a hero and because of her poem they are being recognized for what they truly are.
The Heartland Chapter of the American Red Cross will be celebrating all of the “Heroes of the Heartland” on Wednesday March 9th at the Embassy Suites LaVista Conference Center.