It was a big day of giving back in South Burlington. The Red Cross hosted its 3rd Annual 9-11 Remembrance Drive.
Among the service members and innocent civilians honored at Friday’s blood drive, community members remembered Vermont-born Jennifer Riordan who died on a Southwest flight in April of 2018.
“Jennifer was my sister-in-law and my brother created the foundation right after the incident two years ago,” said Jan Riordan who serves on the Board of Directors for the Jennifer Riordan Foundation.
Jennifer Riordan was flying back to Alberquerque where she and her family lived. Jennifer and her husband Mike moved to New Mexico after graduating from Champlain College and Vermont Technical College, respectively. But on April 17, 2018, the engine fan blade broke off and struck her window, resulting in fatal injuries.
Today, Jennifer’s husband Mike and family keep her memory alive through kindness.
“Jen’s mantra, which was to be kind, loving, caring, and sharing…that’s the hashtag #KLCS and everything is really about ‘Are you being kind, loving, caring, and sharing,’” said Jan.
Two community members stand in front of the Jennifer Riordan Foundation tour bus, making the “I” in “KIND.”
The American Red Cross invited Jan to represent the Jennifer Riordan Foundation at Friday’s blood drive. Donor Recruiter Representative Lisa Fitzgerald said she thought it was a good fit.
“Certainly donating blood is one of the kindest, loving, caring things you can do because every donation of one pint can save up to three lives,” said Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald said the Red Cross hopes to achieve its goal of 40 pints, which is enough to save 120 lives. After donating, volunteers were directed outside to learn more about Jennifer and enter her Kindness Bear Raffle sponsored by the Vermont Teddy Bear Company.
“My heart feels full when I’m out and doing things because it just feels so good to know that when you leave this world, you’re really not gone,” said Jan.
She says one can’t sense of tragedies like Jennifer’s and the 9-11 terrorist attacks, but spreading kindness is how and she and her family cope.
“It’s just a good reminder of how important it is to be nice to one another and certainly at this time more than ever, I think she’s working overtime because we got to get some kindness going fast,” said Jan.