TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — It could be a story from Hollywood: the hockey goalie wins the heart of the girl but she’s the one who makes hundreds of saves. It’s not a movie, though. It’s a real-life love story from Troy that’s sure to inspire you to roll up your sleeve.
When NEWS10 ABC’s Lydia Kulbida sat down with Jeanne and Jim Carras in Troy, they shared pictures and stories from their long relationship together. They met at a hockey game. From that meeting to now, Jim and Jeanne just celebrated 35 years of marriage.
Jim recalled, “I was a goalie, and she has this profound love of goalies.” And it was that profound love of goalies that led to their own long-lasting love.
In Jim’s job as a photographer, he took a picture of Jeanne’s favorite goalie, Gilles Gilbert, and gave it to her when he knew she would see him. When Jeanne gave Gilles the picture to sign, she said, “He looks at it with this little Quebec accent, he goes, ‘Where you get this? This is old.’ I said, ‘A guy I barely knew at the time knew how much I absolutely adored you, and he took it, and he gave it to me.’ And he goes, ‘Wow, that was nice.’ And I said, ‘It was so nice I married him!”
Through the early years of their marriage, Jeanne continued a habit she started in high school—donating blood. Then came the news no one wants to hear: Jim had cancer. “That was when I started to get on a regular appointment basis when he was sick,” she told NEWS10. “Because if there weren’t people donating, these people would die.”
Jeanne started a remarkable record: donating platelets every other Sunday like clockwork, for 20 years. “I believe this one is 365,” she said as she was hooked up to the machine extracting platelets from her blood.
No matter the weather, or whether there’s a pandemic, Jeanne is in her chair at the Red Cross just after 7 on a Sunday morning. “I always say to people, I donate platelets, what’s your superpower,” Jeanne chuckled.
The blood comes out of one arm, the life-saving platelets for cancer patients drawn out, before the blood is pumped back into her other arm. Jeanne posts each donation on Facebook but said, “I don’t do it for the likes. I want people to see that this is an important thing to do.”
She calls the multiple needle sticks her badge of honor. “I’ve had people say to me, ‘Oh God, I don’t know how you do it. I hate needles.’ Well, I hate cancer.” Jeanne pointed out: “Perspective.”
In a few months, Jim and Jeanne will celebrate 15 years cancer-free. But Jeanne still devotes hours of her time to help people she’ll never meet. After all, every 15 seconds, someone needs platelets.
“Platelet donations help us help people who are already in somewhat dire circumstances, a faceless person out there,” noted Mary Alice Molgard, speaking on behalf of the American Red Cross. “She’s contributing something that is making that individual’s life better.”
Both blood and platelets are needed during the national blood shortage. To donate, contact the Northeastern New York chapter by calling (518) 458-8111 or going online to make an appointment. They have times available Thursday, February 10, and Friday, February 11. There is also information on upcoming blood drives in Niskayuna on Saturday, February 12 and in Rensselaer on Monday, February 14.
Continuing her streak of donations, Jeanne reflected, “Everybody’s story is different why they do it. They do it in memory of somebody, they do it because they can like me.”
And sometimes it hits close to home again, like when Jim’s young cousin Markell had blood cancer, passing away in 2018. “She got more time with her family because there were donors like me out there,” said Jeanne.
“There’s a lot of cancer survivors out there because people make a conscious effort, like Jeannie, to make something good out of it,” added Jim. And that’s a save to celebrate.
As Jim put the spotlight on Jeanne—”She’s the hero”—she deflected. But Jim insisted, “Without her, I’m not here.”