Local volunteer goes the extra 23,000 miles for the Red Cross

Red Cross volunteer Don Suloff loads boxes of lifesaving blood into the Red Cross vehicle to deliver to area hospitals. Photo by Laura McGuire / American Red Cross

By Laura McGuire, American Red Cross

The American Red Cross is always in need of blood and platelet donations, but it’s also in need of local volunteers to help transport blood products to area hospitals.

Don Suloff is a volunteer and platelet donor, who inspires and encourages others to follow in his footsteps during National Volunteer Month and Volunteer Appreciation Week, both in April.  

Suloff, a transportation specialist for more than 20 years, has logged nearly 23,000 miles behind the wheel of a Red Cross vehicle.

A quick Google search reveals that it takes 24,901 miles to circle the earth. Suloff has about 1,900 miles to go before he can claim to have rounded the globe in his volunteer travels. But it’s not about the mileage; he thrives on helping people and making a difference in the community by delivering thousands of blood donations to area hospitals.

While enjoying his retired life, Suloff found he had extra time on his hands and wanted to put it to good use. So, every Tuesday and Sunday morning you can find Suloff at the Red Cross donation center in Madison loading boxes filled with precious, lifesaving blood to deliver to area hospitals.

In 2001, Suloff got his start volunteering with the Red Cross as a blood donor ambassador, a role where he would check blood donors into their appointments, answer questions and give out post donation snacks. He volunteered at various community drives throughout the Madison area.

In 2010, Suloff became a transportation specialist. “I like driving and visiting with people”, said Suloff. “This is a perfect volunteer opportunity for me.” Whether visiting with Red Cross staff or hospital staff, Suloff’s caring, compassionate personality shines through and inspires us all.

“Some days I deliver a couple boxes of blood, some days I deliver eight boxes of blood,” said Suloff, a Madison resident. Suloff finds delivering blood to area hospitals an easy task but a very important thing to do. “Knowing that I am delivering blood is very rewarding, especially knowing that patient’s lives depend on it.”

Red Cross blood donor Don Suloff takes a moment to smile for the camera while donating platelets for patients in need. Photo by Laura McGuire / American Red Cross

On most Tuesdays, after volunteering his time as a transportation specialist, Suloff steps into the donation center to donate platelets for patients in need. Platelet donors are able to donate once every seven days up to 24 times a year and Suloff contributes every chance he gets. He has donated more than 117 gallons of blood in the past 30 years.

Suloff’s recalls one on his fondest Red Cross memories – While out in the community and wearing a “Red Cross Cancer Kicker T-shirt,” given to him as a thank you gift for one of his many donations, a woman he didn’t know approached him. Upon seeing his T-shirt, she thanked him for donating blood. She was indeed thankful for the lifesaving gift of blood as she had just completed her cancer treatment and knew too well the priceless gift of platelets.

“That was quite an impactful moment, and one I will always remember” said Suloff. “When I told her I also volunteered with the Red Cross and delivered blood to area hospitals she was even more thrilled.”

During this National Volunteer Week, we salute our Red Cross volunteers, celebrate their accomplishments and recognize each and every one of them for their lifesaving work. Without these volunteer heroes the Red Cross could not achieve our mission of helping people in need.

More than 90 percent of the Red Cross workforce is volunteers. Last year, more than 300,000 individuals volunteered their time to support the mission of the Red Cross.

Our volunteers are the true heart and soul of the Red Cross. With endless compassion and dedication, Red Cross volunteers give of themselves whenever and wherever they are needed. You, too, can help.

Please consider becoming a Red Cross volunteer, visit redcross.org/volunteer to learn more, or make an appointment to give blood by visiting redcrossblood.org.

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