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A Pint for Kim draws big crowds as annual Naperville blood drive goes for new state record – Chicago Tribune

Lance Allen started his Saturday morning with something other than the newspaper and a cup of coffee.

“I’ve given blood before but not as this location,” the Naperville resident said as he awaited a pre-screening process inside Naperville North High School for the fifth annual A Pint for Kim blood drive.

“I think this event keeps gaining traction because Naperville is a pretty strong community but I also think it’s the family involved that’s doing such a wonderful job — the sisters have gone out of their way to (make it) extra special. When you have that much family love, it’s a real dynamic situation and people feel that.”

There were 100 beds awaiting donors inside Naperville North High School Saturday for the fifth annual A Pint for Kim blood drive, which organizers hoped would set a new record by bringing in more than 800 pints of blood. (David Sharos/Naperville Sun)
There were 100 beds awaiting donors inside Naperville North High School Saturday for the fifth annual A Pint for Kim blood drive, which organizers hoped would set a new record by bringing in more than 800 pints of blood. (David Sharos/Naperville Sun)

The seven-hour effort has broken the state record for the largest blood drive every year it’s been held, bringing in more than 600 pints last year and setting a goal of 800 pints this year. It’s held in the memory of Kimberley Benedyk Sandford, a Naperville mother of two who died March 3, 2020, of a rare form of appendix cancer.

Sandford received 40 blood transfusions during her final months of treatment and asked that when she died a blood drive be held instead of a wake.

Dale Chobak, of Bolingbrook, has his blood drawn Saturday morning during the A Pint for Kim blood drive at Naperville North High School. He said he and his wife, Maureen, have given blood all five years that the event's been held. (David Sharos/Naperville Sun)
Dale Chobak, of Bolingbrook, has his blood drawn Saturday morning during the A Pint for Kim blood drive at Naperville North High School. He said he and his wife, Maureen, have given blood all five years that the event’s been held. (David Sharos/Naperville Sun)

Kim’s younger sister Kristyn Benedyk, 43, of Lisle, who co-founded what has become an annual tradition with sister Kathleen Fuglsang, said the event is held at Naperville North because that’s where Sandford’s sons, JD, a 15-year-old sophomore, and Ricky, a 17-year-old junior, go to school.

“We moved back (to the school) last year after being out at the Aurora airport two years ago due to COVID restrictions and needing more space to spread out,” Benedyk said.  “We had hundreds of students volunteering here when we moved it back to the high school and it has now become part of the culture. We expect this to be our permanent home.

“When JD is a senior in May of 2026, we are going to try and go for the national record, which is currently held by the Los Angeles Chargers,” she said.

There is an ongoing need for blood donations, Benedyk said, and there really is no such thing as an ample supply when cancer patients are the leading recipients.

Kristyn Benedyk, of Lisle, co-founded the annual A Pint for Kim blood drive, held Saturday at Naperville North High School, after the death of her sister, Naperville resident Kimberley Benedyk Sandford. (David Sharos/Naperville Sun)
Kristyn Benedyk, of Lisle, co-founded the annual A Pint for Kim blood drive, held Saturday at Naperville North High School, after the death of her sister, Naperville resident Kimberley Benedyk Sandford. (David Sharos/Naperville Sun)

“If people think there are weeks and weeks supply of blood sitting on the shelf, they’re wrong,” she said. “We get these notices when there is a one-day supply or less than a one-day supply and it’s more frequent than people realize.”

This year’s drive features plenty of extra activities meant to bring people out and create a family event, including live bands, food trucks, a car show, carnival games, face-painting and temporary tattoos.

“Everything we do is free,” Benedyk said. “It costs so much to go out and do things with a family, and we really just like to create an environment where you can come out for the day and hang out and do things with your family.”

The number of donation beds has increased from about 60 last year to 100 this year “in order to grow the actual blood drive and decrease wait times,” she said.

Sarah Horne, an account representative for the Versiti Blood Centers, said she was able to secure 100 beds and volunteer staff for the annual A Pint for Kim blood drive Saturday by seeking help from the company's Indiana locations. (David Sharos/Naperville Sun)
Sarah Horne, an account representative for the Versiti Blood Centers, said she was able to secure 100 beds and volunteer staff for the annual A Pint for Kim blood drive Saturday by seeking help from the company’s Indiana locations. (David Sharos/Naperville Sun)

Sarah Horne, an account representative for Versiti Blood Centers, the company that collects the blood, said getting the extra beds and necessary staff wasn’t difficult because the family always “make their requests well in advance.”

“For me, this is a celebration of life,” she said. “It’s a great day. You might have had a bad day last week and you come here and it renews your faith in humanity. I go home and kiss my kids and I’m grateful to be here and see all these generous people show up on a Saturday.”

Dale Chobak, of Bolingbrook, said he has made a blood donation every year the event’s been held and that “having (the drive) around Mother’s Day helps you remember it.”

“For me, the intrinsic thing about it is being able to help others. I enjoy knowing that. I know they are hoping to break the national record soon and we always pass the word to others.”

Dale’s wife, Maureen, said “our kids and co-workers from school are coming here later. It only takes a few minutes to do this. You’re out in 10 minutes, and it’s something every parent should teach their children to do.”

There were 100 beds awaiting donors inside Naperville North High School Saturday for the fifth annual A Pint for Kim blood drive, which organizers hoped would set a new record by bringing in 800 pints of blood. (David Sharos/Naperville Sun)
There were 100 beds awaiting donors inside Naperville North High School Saturday for the fifth annual A Pint for Kim blood drive, which organizers hoped would set a new record by bringing in 800 pints of blood. (David Sharos/Naperville Sun)

Naperville resident Rebecca Niday said this was the first time she was donating blood at the event, noting that she was “moved by the mission.”

“I found out about this from communication at my kids’ school,” Niday said. “I was struck by the care and the community support of this family. This adds to my Mother’s Day experience in that it’s a reminder of how precious life is and to enjoy my time with my girls.”

Benedyk reflected on the how the blood drive has continued to grow and what her sister might say were she there.

“Kim’s go-to line — whether she met you for an hour or knew you her whole life — was for her to say how proud she was of you. That was her thing,” Benedyk said. “She was everybody’s biggest cheerleader. If she talked to you for 10 minutes, she’d find something that you were doing that was amazing and say that she was proud of you.”

David Sharos is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.

Naperville resident Lance Allen stopped at Naperville North High School Saturday morning to donate blood at the fifth annual A Pint for Kim drive, which was launched back in 2020 in the memory of Naperville resident Kimberley Benedyk Sandford. (David Sharos/Naperville Sun)
Naperville resident Lance Allen stopped at Naperville North High School Saturday morning to donate blood at the fifth annual A Pint for Kim drive, which was launched back in 2020 in the memory of Naperville resident Kimberley Benedyk Sandford. (David Sharos/Naperville Sun)

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