Taylor Fleming may be gone, but her spirit lives on.
“We continue to find out stories through Facebook — ‘I’ve been waiting to write, but now I want to write.’ A year later, people are still coming forward with stories that we didn’t hear before,” said David Guido, Taylor’s uncle. “They just continue to make her parents so proud. Always the same — ‘I didn’t know Taylor, but she saw me and she saw I was distressed, and she came up and introduced herself, and said, ‘What’s wrong?’ or ‘How can I help you?’ or ‘I’m here for you.’ That kind of thing.”
When: Noon to 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 4
Where: Drivers Village, Cicero
To make an appointment, visit redcrossblood.org and enter sponsor code 8630 or call 1-800-REDCROSS and use the same code. The family has also set up a Facebook event for the drive at Facebook.com/events/569445799737936/?fref=ts. Donors get a coupon for a free pound of coffee from Dunkin Donuts.
Taylor was on her way home from volunteering at the Smith Road Elementary School Christmas tree lighting and concert in Cicero on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011 when her 2003 Dodge Neon was struck broadside by a 2000 Lincoln Continental driven by 45-year-old Timothy Williams of Phoenix. Fleming was removed from life support three days later so that her organs could be donated, leaving behind her parents, Michelle and Dan Fleming, and four sisters, Kaliegh, Jordan, Schuyler and Reilley, as well as a large extended family and countless friends.
In order to ensure that her memory survives, Taylor’s family is conducting a blood drive from noon to 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 4, at Drivers Village in Cicero. To sign up for an appointment, go to redcrossblood.org and enter sponsor code 8630. You can also call 1-800-REDCROSS and use the same code. The family has also set up a Facebook event for the drive at Facebook.com/events/569445799737936/?fref=ts. Donors get a coupon for a free pound of coffee from Dunkin Donuts.
“Obviously, when Taylor was in the hospital, she needed a lot of blood, about 70 units in the first 24 ours,” Guido said. “We just, in Taylor’s spirit, thought, what can we do to give back? How can we help others? So we thought a blood drive would be a great way [to do that], to ask people to give blood in her honor. We’re using the term ‘to help save a life’ by donating blood in Taylor’s honor.”
The Red Cross wants to see 90 people signed up before the drive on the 4th, a date the Fleming family chose so that Taylor’s friends, many of whom have gone off to college, would be home to attend. And people have already begun signing up, even those who are new to the process.
“I think one of the really cool things to come out of this is that we’re getting people to sign up who have never donated before,” Guido said. “They’re sending us messages — ‘This is the reason why I’m going to donate now.’ I think that’s really cool.”
It shows the continuing influence Taylor has, more than a year after her death. It means a lot to her family as they continue to struggle with the loss.
“You could say good say good days and bad days, but it’s actually more like good hours and bad hours,” Guido said. “They’ve said that family and friends and the love and support of the family is getting them through. They’re forever grateful for that. Day by day, hour by hour. The holidays are very difficult. Last holiday, I think everybody was still numb. That’s just the reality of how it is for us. Everyone’s under the realization that nothing will ever be as it was. There’s always going to be a sad moment, even when you’re trying to celebrate.”
Taylor’s parents, sisters and extended family hope to make the blood drive an annual event. If they do, it will join a softball tournament designed to raise money for a scholarship in her name, as well as an all-in-fun kickball tournament, both held over the summer.
“I think the number one thing is that we don’t want anyone to ever forget who Taylor was, what she stood for, so her life doesn’t fade away,” Guido said. “She was such a good person. The big saying is God only takes the best. With Taylor, we know that’s true.”
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.