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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Eagle Scout Honored by Miller-Keystone Blood Center

From L to R: Miller Blood Center's Diane Lee, Holly Fereno, Chris Fereno, Jim Fereno

This is a story about MacKenzie Cleffi, the two-year old daughter of poplar Freedom High School gym teacher Michael Cleffi. Last July, she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. That's a rare type of cancer that attacks the white blood cells. This is also a story about Christopher Fereno, age 17, a Senior at Freedom who plans to study biopharmaceutical engineering at Lehigh University next year. This is a story about the Miller-Keystone Blood Center, which needs 450 donors every day to supply area hospitals with the blood needed to treat sick children like MacKenzie. This is finally a story about Eagle Scouts from Troop 317 in Bethlehem Township, who must complete a community project among all the other requirements to attain this rank.

Fereno family surprised by scholarship
Fereno was a Life Scout hoping to become an Eagle. At Freedom, he learned of MacKenzie's plight, and decided that the best way he could help her was to organize a blood drive in her honor. He approached Diane Lee at the Miller Blood Center, who suggested he could recruit donors on MacKenzie's behalf.

Most schools who organize blood drives look for about 25-50 donors. Fereno, acting on his own, decided he'd get donors. And off he went. He recruited students and teachers. He made a pitch to the Township's athletic organizations. He visited Lions' Clubs, Masons and various civic groups.

"The kid was unbelievable," aid Lee.

When all was said and done, Fereno had managed to recruit twice the 100 donors he had pledged.

He will get his Eagle.

After it was all over, Fereno received word in class one day that the Principal wanted to see him. "You don't get called into the Principal's office unless there's a problem," said his mother Holly. But it was good news. Fereno had received an invitation from the Blood Center, which wanted to reward him for his efforts.

"Sometimes it's good just to be a dad." 
In the middle of a school week, Fereno was released from class to visit the Miller-Keystone Blood Center. Accompanied by his parents, he was surprised to see the entire staff waiting there to greet him, including Dr. Kip Kutner, the Medical Director.

Fereno had surprised everyone by producing over 200 donors for a blood drive, a feat never seen before. As he stood there in his Eagle Scout uniform, with a sash containing 40 merit badges he was awarded a certificate of appreciation. But the Miller-Keystone Blood Center had another surprise for him. It was a $500 scholarship to help defray his costs at Lehigh.

His father Jim is himself a Scoutmaster at Troop 317. But that was not on his mind as his son was honored.

"Sometimes it's good just to be a dad," he said.

Why give blood? "There's no substitute for it," explained the Blood Center's Scott Appnel. "People who donate blood are truly assisting in saving the life of someone they've never met."

Like MacKenzie.

If you'd like to donate, you can call to schedule an appointment at 800-B-A-DONOR (223-6667).


Anonymous said...

Good job Chris.

Anonymous said...

When you hear about the spoiled brats on so many of our college campuses, young people like Chris give us some hope for the future. Congratulations and best wishes to him.