(KATV) Benton - March 22, 2013 would have been Drew Nicole Melton's 18th birthday. She died the day before Thanksgiving in Saline County last year. The driver of the car she was in lost control, ejecting all five teens. Since Melton's death the community has held numerous events in her honor.
Friday, Saline Memorial hospital held a blood drive in Drew's memory. It just happened to fall on her birthday and Drew's parents were honored.
There was a constant line in the Health Education building at Saline Memorial Hospital, everyone giving blood in Drew Melton's honor.
Alex Nelson is a junior at Bryant High School. She says, "I didn't know her but I knew of her. When I heard we could give blood in honor of her, I thought that it was the least I could do to give back to the community." She continues, "It makes me feel good that if something happens to someone that I personally know - that the entire community, Benton, Bryant and Bauxite would come together."
In the first hour of the seven hour drive, there were 35 donors, more than some drives do in a day.
Drew's dad, Ted Melton showed up to thank everyone. He says, "Just coincidently Drew needed a lot of blood and my mom is a double liver transplant recipient. So the blood drive itself was a great idea." He looks at the crowd, "It's been incredible. I mean way beyond my grasp."
Melton says some of the best parts of his days are hearing stories about his favorite shortstop. One of the latest, "She got in trouble for tutoring because she was late for school a couple times. We are 4-months after she left us and the turn out, it just doesn't quit. It's been amazing"
Melton says the turn-out at events keeping his daughter's memory alive, is a direct result of her involvement in the community and the positive way she lived her life.
Holding back tears, he smiles, "She has had honor after honor. Seventeen years old, she obviously did something along the way, I don't know where she got it but she got it."
Ted Melton concludes, "Oh I love her, and I miss her so bad."
Benton High School retired Drew Melton's softball number. They're bronzing her glove and a tournament has been named after her.
The Melton's still go to the softball games. Drew would have been playing as a senior.
The number people who gave blood was not available by the 6 p.m. newscast.
Arkansas donates less than the national average. Just to give you an idea... if they collected 100 pints, meaning 100 donors, it would not be unusual for that to go to one person. That gives you an idea of how important blood donation is to the American Red Cross.