Blood drive in memory of Milford soldier planned for Monday

MILFORD – Next Monday, Sgt. Ryan Wilmot would have celebrated his 27th birthday. Instead of cake and balloons, his family will honor his life by holding a blood drive in his memory.

When Wilmot died in a car accident on March 27, 2011, after returning from Afghanistan, his mother Heidi Evans didn’t want to sit back and let his memory be forgotten. She organized the Sgt. Ryan Wilmot Memorial Blood drive through the Red Cross. This will be its third year.

“I wanted to do something special for his birthday instead of sitting home thinking about it,” Evans said. “This is more positive.”

Wilmot served in the military for three and a half years and was a graduate of Milford High School. He lived in Milford for most of his life but lived in Manchester at the time of his death. Wilmot died at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston after his car hit a tree in Milford.

The Monday, Feb. 24 blood drive will take place from 1-6 p.m. at the Milford VFW.

Red Cross spokeswoman Mary Brandt said winter weather has been working against blood drives this season.

“This is coming at a time when the Red Cross is experiencing an urgent need for blood,” Brandt said.

More than 1,000 blood drives have been canceled nationwide this winter because of weather, which has led to approximately 35,000 uncollected blood and platelet units.

In New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont, the blood supply is dwindling.

“We need to collect 700 units every day to maintain a sufficient blood supply for hospitals in northern New England,” Brandt said.

When Evans started the blood drive, she had done it in the hopes that it could be helpful to others.

Brandt said that she appreciates the thoughtfulness behind this idea, as well as the way it remembers Wilmot.

“We thank the Wilmot family for thinking of the Red Cross,” Brandt said. “I think it’s a wonderful way to honor his memory.”

Evans agreed that it’s a good way to honor her son, and she believes that he would like the way they choose to keep his memory alive.

“He’d be happy we were doing something positive,” Evans said. “He liked helping people.”