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BLOOD DONOR CELEBRATES MILESTONE.

Byline: DENNIS McCARTHY

Odds and ends around the Valley.

Every other Tuesday for the last 13 years, Robert Williams has made the 50-minute drive from his Canoga Park home to the City of Hope in Duarte.

There, the retired Hughes Corp. executive spends 90 minutes donating blood platelets for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation.

Bob makes the trip in memory of his daughter, Casey, who died of Hodgkin's disease in 1992, and for all the sick sons and daughters of parents like him.

``I started donating for my daughter during her chemotherapy, but many times the platelets went to somebody else,'' he said. ``After she died, I knew she would want me to keep coming here to help all the other young people fighting cancer.''

Last Tuesday, when Bob showed up at City of Hope, he was greeted with a birthday cake by the staff. In the 30-year history of the hospital's donor center, no one ever made more blood platelet donations - 250 - than Bob.

``His commitment is just incredible, and I only wish we had 50 more like him,'' said Dr. Joy Fridey, director of transfusion medicine at City of Hope.

Bob couldn't figure out what the big deal was. It's a couple of hours every two weeks out of his life. People waste more time than that sitting on the freeway.

``My daughter's courage was an inspiration to me, and I hope I can be an inspiration to others to also become blood donors,'' he said.

``You're giving someone who is very sick a chance at life. And what else are we all doing in our lives that's more important than that?''

The shelf life of platelets, which help the blood to clot, is only about two days, so more donors are needed to help the growing number of patients at City of Hope, Fridey said.

``We're trying to make people realize the need is constantly there, and to please help even if you don't personally know someone who is battling cancer.

``From 4 million to 5 million people a year need transfusions, but only 5 percent of healthy Americans donate blood,'' she said.

For more information on becoming a donor, call (626) 471-7171 or see http://www.cityofhope.org.

The San Fernando Valley lost one of its true heroes a few weeks ago with the passing of Mort Wolk, 89, of Sherman Oaks.

Mort was one of our local D-Day veterans whom I took to a screening of ``Saving Private Ryan'' in 1998 to get their reactions to the authenticity of the World War II movie. They all gave it a thumbs up.

Mort was among the 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers who parachuted behind enemy lines on D-Day, fighting to stop German troops from moving, thwarting the invasion of Normandy.

The movie scene that sent a shiver through his body was when the GIs used clicks from a toy cricket to identify one other.

``We landed in hedgerows at 4 a.m., and it was dark and freezing,'' recalled Mort, a member of Jewish War Veterans Post 603.

``Everybody had a cricket clicker. When you saw a shadow moving, you clicked. If there was a click back, it was friend. If there wasn't a click, you shot.

``When I heard the sound of that clicker in the movie, I felt like I was back in those hedgerows - wet, cold and afraid, wondering whose shadow it was out there in the darkness.''

RIP, Mort. And thank you for all you did for this country.

From heroes to bums. Last Tuesday night, some lowlife broke into the West Valley Boys & Girls Club and stole more than $1,400 the kids had collected to buy supplies, games and sports equipment.

``They worked hard to raise this money and were crushed to learn someone had stolen it,'' said Kelsy Maruyama, executive director of the club.

It's a long shot, but she's hoping someone out there might have some information about the theft that would help in recovering the stolen money. Call (818) 402-1978.

And finally, some of the most beautiful art you will ever see will be on display, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 19 at Tierra del Sol, 9919 Sunland Blvd., Sunland.

The free exhibit, ``Faces & Vases,'' will feature the artwork of local men and women with developmental disabilities who are clients of Tierra, a nonprofit organization that provides training, employment, residential and support services.

More than 30 pieces of framed art and ceramics will be available for purchase.

Dennis McCarthy, (818) 713-3749

dennis.mccarthy(at)dailynews.com

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

Robert Williams makes his 250th blood platelet donation, more than any other donor, Tuesday at City of Hope in Duarte.

Walt Mancini/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 12, 2005
Words:791
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