JustFight blood drive promotes CPR and awareness of children with brain damage

Above, left to right: Brad Turner, Amy O’Brien, Allyson Turner, and Bridget Turner at the North Penn VFW in Ardsley.

When I signed up for an appointment to donate blood for yesterday, I had no idea I would come out of that with anything but some packaged cookies and a sense of satisfaction for doing a good deed. Instead I walked right into the world of Allyson Turner and her parents courageous effort to recover from a tragedy that every parent fears. 

As it happened, what I thought was just another blood drive was one staged by the Just Fight Foundation located right here in Glenside. If you’ve donated blood many times, you’ll find that they can have distinct atmosphere’s to them. Most of the time, they’re fairly business-like affairs that shepherd donors through the process as efficiently as possible, ending with a sincere thank you for your time and donation and some cookies.

This time was different. The doors of the North Penn VFW opened to a blood drive that felt almost festive. I heard applause, whoops of celebration, and saw a lot of attention focused upon a beautiful little girl confined to a wheelchair outfitted with a screen to help her communicate.

You can read the full story of Allyson and her family here. Simply summarizing it breaks the heart, but on December 8, 2015 Brad and Bridget found 7-year-old Allyson drowning in the bathtub. Only Brad’s knowledge of CPR kept her alive long enough to survive the trip to Abington Hospital. She was later airlifted to Children’s Hospital, but the news was not good. The ordeal left her brain damaged. 

The name of the foundation comes from the repeated pleas her parents and brother made to Ally while she lay in an induced coma to help her lungs heal. The mission of the Just Fight Foundation is to raise awareness, provide training in emergency preparedness and life saving techniques, and link families in need to valuable resources during times of crisis.

The Turners started Just Fight to call attention to the plight of children in similar circumstances, and to promote the importance of CPR in the event of an emergency. Because Ally also needed a significant amount of blood, they help organize up to four blood drives per year. As if you needed further incentive to donate, someone always brings homemade cookies.

Giving blood is a great thing to do under any circumstance, but the Turners’ experience provide a close-to-home lesson about its importance. Plus, Ally’s life was saved because both her parents knew CPR. Would your kids be so lucky? 

Learn more about the foundation here. Donate to the foundation here