East Texans Donating Blood To Help Out Family - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

10/9/07-Jacksonville

East Texans Donating Blood To Help Out Family

An East Texas community is pulling together Tuesday afternoon in memory of one of its own. TJC pitcher Payton Diers, 19, of Jacksonville died from his injuries in a Saturday car accident. Tuesday, Jacksonville ISD hosted a blood drive at Stamps Restaurant, not only to honor the young man's life but also to help out his family during this difficult time.

Pint after pint and squeeze after squeeze, dozens of East Texans give 20 minutes of their day to donate blood in memory of Payton Diers.

"He was just a great kid, I mean wonderful to be around, great athlete," says Jacksonville Head Athletic Trainer Jeff Shrode.

But donors, like Jeff, say it's not only about honoring Payton, but truly helping his family.

"When we found the opportunity to have the chance to help the family in any way, then we wanted to jump at that opportunity," he explains.

That's because all of the blood given in Payton's memory will be credited to the family's hospital bills, essentially paying for the 70 units used during his five surgeries.

"Medical bills can be such a financial burden and that is the last thing they need right now," says donor Candy Butt.

But the best news -- even if more blood is donated than what Payton used, that too can be used to help pay bills and that's exactly why nearly one hundred pints were donated Monday. 

"I think that explains to what kind of family and what kind of kid he was while he was here in Jacksonville," Jeff says.

And now, the community is hoping even more will be given.

"It's important for everyone to do even if you didn't know Payton," says Assistant Athletic Trainer Sam McMullen.

It's a community giving the gift of life in memory of a young man who didn't make it, but knowing all the while the blood they're donating today can save a life tomorrow, and they say that's exactly what Payton would have wanted.

Visitation services for Payton Diers are Tuesday night from 6:00 p.m.  to 8:00 p.m. at Autry Funeral Home in Jacksonville. His funeral will be Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. at Central Baptist Church in Jacksonville.

Tracy Watler, Reporting: tracy@kltv.com

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