NAPERVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- Hundreds of people are expected to gather this Mother's Day weekend in the western suburbs for a life-saving cause: A Pint for Kim.
What started as a way to honor a Naperville mom who passed away from cancer has now become one of the largest one-day blood drives in Illinois. And, on Thursday, there was a special kick-off, courtesy of the Chicago Cubs.
Former Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster led off what is anticipated to be another record-breaking blood drive.
"We set a one-day, one-location record, beat it a little every year. This year, beat it quite a bit," said organizer Kristyn Benedyk.
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The now-annual blood drive is named in honor of Kristyn Benedyk's sister, Kim. It began in 2020, when Kim Sandford, a wife and mother of two boys, was battling a cancer so rare that her case was one in 10 million. At times, Kim needed dozens of blood and plasma transfusions, which inspired her family to start "#APintForKim."
"Kim was involved in the creation of Pint for Kim, planned to take part the first blood drive, but unfortunately, she passed away five days before the event," Kristyn said.
But, Kim's wish was to have the blood drive continue, and hundreds turned out. This year, A Pint for Kim will take place at Naperville North High School, where Kim's sons now attend school.
"The support there, the teachers, administrators, coaches. My two boys play sports there, had multiple emails go out to teams to come out and support it," said Robert Sandford, Kim's husband. "She never said, 'Why me?' She turned it around. She asked, 'Why me, and what can I do if I have to go through this? How can we use that to do something positive for the world?' That's where she decided, we need to let people know that the biggest use of donated blood goes to cancer patients."
So, this weekend, just before Mother's Day, Kim's legacy will live on in urging others to continue giving the gift of life.
"I think she would be very humbled and proud. She's tied to something making a difference in so many lives," Robert said.
"It gets overwhelming. Source of it is losing someone we love. She would be in awe of what everybody is doing," Kristyn said.
The blood drive is Saturday, May 13 at Naperville North High School, located at 899 N. Mill St., where Kim's sons Richard and J.D. attend school, according to ABC7 Chicago news partner, the Daily Herald.
You can find more information, and sign up to donate here.