Rutland, VT — One of the state’s biggest blood drives is set to take place in a couple of weeks. This year’s Mini Gift Of Life Marathon is named for Peter Giancola, a Rutland man who made an impact on the community.

Giancola was a much-loved man, loved by his family, and the Rutland community and his family are honored by the tribute. “My dad was a very selfless giving man, who never said no and always wanted to do everything to make the community better,” said Gabby Giancola. “He was a big family man.”

In 2010, doctors diagnosed Peter with stage four Glioblastoma. He was just 43 years old. To his children Grace, Gabby, Mollie, and Joseph, he was their number one fan.

“He was always very supportive of us, he was at every basketball game, soccer game, dance recital, baseball game, cheerleading competition, literally everything,” said Gabby.

Doctors gave Peter just eight months to live, but through sheer will and love for his family, he survived 10 more years. “Towards the end of his life he started needing more blood given to him so that prolonged his life a little bit,” said Gabby.

He passed away on March 6, 2020, at the age of 53. The Giancola family knew immediately what they would do to honor his memory, and asked friends to donate blood so other patients might have more years with family. In 2021, the Mini Gift of Life Marathon blood drive was renamed the Peter Giancola Mini Gift of Life Blood Drive in his honor.

“It’s a great time of year that we do it because there is always a need in the middle of July for blood because colleges and schools are closed people are on vacation,” said Lisa Fitzgerald, a donor recruiter for the American Red Cross of Vermont. Fitzgerald says one pint of blood can save up to three lives. “Blood is used by a lot of cancer patients and unfortunately there always seems to be a lot of cancer patients who do require a lot of blood.”

Gabby says she learned a lot from her father. “Always be positive, no matter what life throws at you, you would have never known that he was sick because he always had a smile on his face and just trying to make you laugh and make sure everyone had a good time before he had a good time.”