Brittany Jo Hankal
Brittany Jo Hankal began donating blood to the American Red Cross at age 16 and was among the students who helped David Crockett High School become one of the region’s strongest supporters of Red Cross Blood Services.
She continued donating blood as often as possible after her graduation from high school and she recruited others to donate as well.
Before her death last year at 21, Hankal had even convinced her own needle-shy mother to join her in donating at the next Red Cross blood drive she took part in.
Killed in auto accident caused by an alleged drunken driver, Hankal’s next blood drive never arrived. So this holiday weekend her family and friends will take up her cause in what is shaping up to be a record-setting one-day blood drive for the local Red Cross.
Scheduled for 1-6 p.m. Friday at the Leesburg Ruritan building at 1429 Old Stage Coach Road, Jonesborough, the Brittany Jo Hankal Memorial Blood Drive has already won commitments for donations from 130 people. A $3,000 gift card to be awarded to the winner of a drawing among all of the drive’s donors will likely push that number higher.
“My sister started donating blood when she was 16 and my mother had to sign a consent form for her to do it. She loved it and she never missed the drives they had at her school,” her sister, Ashley Ervin, said.
“David Crockett High School is known for doing one of the biggest school drives in this area. Brittany was a part of that.”
Killed in a single-car crash that happened May 10, 2012, as her fiancée was driving with what prosecutors allege were intoxicating levels of alcohol and prescriptions drugs in his system, Hankal was also known for her volunteer work. Since her death, her family has made an effort to help others in her memory.
Ervin said her sisters and their mother have joined forces with Mothers Against Drunk Drivers and spoken at schools and other places where they can educate drivers about the dangers of drinking and driving and how to prevent it. They want to share all of Brittany’s story, but because the case remains in court, at this point they do not want to say too much.
What they can do, Ervin said, is keep her sister’s spirit alive by giving blood to the American Red Cross and encouraging everyone to do so.
Leading they way on Friday, Hankal’s mom, Kimerly Foster, will put her dread of needles aside and make her first blood donation.
“Brittany never got to see that happen,” Ervin said. “The Red Cross was so honored they donated the gift card and everyone who gives will get a Red Cross hat.”
While most one-day blood drives average about 60 donors, Ervin said the family has gathered commitments for 130 donations, mostly from friends and people who knew Hankal through school or work but also from others who heard her story and want to give in honor.