ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — On Friday March 31, hundreds will gather at Albany’s Capital Center for a major fundraiser to continue the life-saving work of the Red Cross in our area. It’s a benefit for an organization that you never know when it might benefit you.   

It only takes 15 minutes to donate a pint of blood that can end up saving three lives.

Kevin Coffey, Regional CEO American Red Cross of Eastern New York, notes, “Every two seconds someone needs lifesaving blood products, that could be someone who’s battling cancer who needs platelets, or a young mother giving birth, you never know when you might need blood, but the need is constant.”

Cheryl Cannon knows that constant need all too well. Her son received transfusions every three weeks after suffering a stroke at the age of 3 1/2, “Blood transfusions were crucial, a crucial form of treatment for my son and if it wasn’t for the regular blood donations he may not have survived.”

Shakir passed away at the age of 34, the young father finally succumbing to complications from sickle cell disease. But the hundreds of transfusions over the years gave his family precious time.

“We were really blessed,” recalls Cheryl who now is a Red Cross volunteer. “I felt blessed and grateful to people who were regular blood donors.”

Blood donations are one part of the Red Cross mission.

“Folks may see the Red Cross responding to big natural disasters, whether it’s hurricanes or wildfires or flooding events,” says Regional CEO Kevin Coffey, “but every single day the Red Cross is responding to home fires in our community and that’s one of the most frequent disasters that we see.”

Coffey says they respond to more than 300 fires each year in the Capital Region, helping families with immediate financial assistance and getting them on the road to recovery.

And because working smoke alarms can cut the risk of death from home fires in half, they’ve installed more than 37,000 smoke alarms in our region and know 72 lives have been saved as a result. Coffey says another “Sound the Alarm” event is coming soon, “We have an event coming up in Troy on April 29th where we’re going to go across the city and install free smoke alarms.”

But all of this work needs funding, and that’s where Fire and Ice Gala co-chairs Laura Petrovic and Kate Otis have been hard at work. While the event is sold out, you can get on a waitlist or donate in other ways shares Otis, “We do have some people who may cancel between now and the event so they can do that they can also support the silent auction we have some amazing items.”

And while the night they’ve planned is fun, honoring Albany Medical Center reminds everyone of what’s at stake here: no one knows when an emergency might upend their lives.

“It really is life changing and I’ve had a couple of close calls in my life,” remembers Otis, “and I’ve known people who’ve needed the support of the Red Cross in very difficult times in their lives.”

NEWS10 ABC’s Lydia Kulbida will emcee the Fire and Ice Gala on Friday March 31st at the Albany Capital Center.