The American Red Cross held a blood drive Monday at the Wyalusing American Legion in memory of Eric Latini, a 17-year-old Wyalusing Valley High School student who died last year after a tragic motorcycle accident.

Latini was an avid motocross rider and lost his life just one week before his graduation in May 2012. His passion for two-wheeled vehicles was shown by his mother, Sue Latini, and sister, Beth Latini, who were both sporting motocross jerseys while donating blood. Joe Latini, his father, also attended and donated blood as well.

Considering the circumstances, the event remained upbeat with friends and the Latini's at times joking with each other as they gave blood.

Sue Latini said that the event is a way to allow people who weren't able to do anything at the time of the accident to come out and show support and make a difference in Eric's name.

The inspiration for the blood drive came from Eric himself, who was a blood donor during the course of his life, Sue Latini noted.

"It's going to be a rough day," Sue Latini said, referencing the memories of her son which inevitably resurfaced at the blood drive. She did, however, agree that good things were being done through the drive and expressed content in seeing the impressive participation.

The process of giving blood, which normally can take about 30 minutes, was backed up by a long list of donors in attendance.

From 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., an influx of people slowed the process down to about an hour or more from start to finish.

Supervisor Jen L. Williams, of the American Red Cross, feverishly helped donors through the screening and blood removal process, along with about 10 others workers.

After donating, people were treated to drinks and snacks to allow their bodies to regenerate after losing approximately one pint of blood. The average adult body holds 10 pints of blood, according to www.redcrossblood.org.

Some of the American Legion members in attendance were unable to give blood due to the amount of times they have been overseas. Blood donation eligibility is somewhat restrictive, with only about 38 percent of the American population able to donate.

The next American Red Cross blood drive in Wyalusing will be held from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. on May 23 at the Wyalusing Fire Hall.

Tim Zyla can be reached at (570) 265-1634; or e-mail: tzyla@thedailyreview.com.