Kind gesture builds lifetime of loyalty

By MATT OCHSNER

GREAT FALLS, MT — One elderly gentleman’s simple act of kindness 48 years ago started Patrick Terry down a path of generosity that continues to this day.

The year was 1969 and Terry was stationed in Germany with the Air Force when he learned his father had passed away. Terry was headed home to attend his father’s funeral when he became stranded at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, still almost 3,000 miles from his final destination in San Jose, Calif. He had no money and there were no immediate Air Force flights available. Terry was sleeping in the airport terminal when an elderly Red Cross volunteer woke him and offered him enough money to get him back in time for the funeral. It was a small loan that Terry paid back as soon as he made it home.

“I will never forget that elderly gentleman who got up in the middle of the night to help me out,” Terry said. “That one act of kindness was my incentive to get involved in Red Cross.”

Some 48 years later, Terry continues to give back, both as a volunteer blood courier and a frequent blood donor. He estimates he’s made 660 donations through the years, much of them platelets.

During a media interview following his 400th donation, Terry commented that he had never actually met anyone who had received the blood he had donated. Shortly afterward he got an email from someone on the Hi-Line who had benefited, thanking him for taking the time to donate and volunteer.

“There used to be a slogan for blood donations that all you feel is good,” he said. “I’ve gotten great satisfaction out of it.”

To volunteer or become a blood or platelet donor visit www.redcross.org/local/montana.

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