BRISTOL — Loving his community through service was a primary life goal for Burlington firefighter and Bristol CERT team member Colin McFadden, loved ones and colleagues said, as they continued his mission under the form of a blood drive at West Bristol School on Saturday in partnership with the American Red Cross.
According to Colin’s mother, Lee McFadden, this was the fourth blood drive done in his memory.
Colin, a lifelong resident of Bristol, died aged 26 in August last year, two days after falling while fighting a fire. Medical professionals discovered that he had died of a cerebral hemorrhage due to an undiagnosed case of acute promyelocytic leukaemia.
“We are thrilled that organizations like CERT are continuing to hold blood drives (in honor of Colin),” Lee said. “A lot of people don’t know this, but he donated to himself and knew the importance of it. He donated while he was at Bristol Tech. It became apparent during his hospitalization that the supply blood was very low and decisions were being made about his care given the very limited supply of blood products.
The first blood drive held in Colin’s honor took place in Burlington two days after his death, his mother said.
“It filled up so quickly that they extended the hours and it was a very successful ride,” Lee said. “The New Hartford Fire Department put one on for him and the Farmington department.”
A quilt sewn in memory of Colin was also on display at the blood drive, one made up of patches from first responder agencies from across the country. These patches had at one time been placed on a fence outside the New Hartford home where Colin had fallen while fighting the structure fire.
“There were over 250 patches, so there was enough for two quilts made by a woman in New Hartford. One is at Burlington (Volunteer Fire Department) Station One near the call room that Colin spent a lot of time in and we have the other,” Lee said.
CERT team member and incident coordinator Kim Ploszaj said the blood drive was meant to encourage others to follow Colin’s example by donating.
“The fact that there is a shortage during the winter every year and everything that happens in this world with shortages, we wanted to do something in his honor and do something good for the community,” Ploszaj said. “This is our first that we are doing for Colin and his family is helping us.”
Colin was known for his love of radios and his dedication to first response, whether during his time on the CERT team or firefighting. Bristol Community Emergency Response Team manager Harley Graime said he served around six years on the team. Colin has participated in food distributions and vaccination clinics over the past few years. He was in charge of communication for the CERT team.
“I think this event is the culmination of a lot of community work,” said CERT Team Captain Michael Vito Montelli. “It helps and keeps Colin’s memory alive. It’s a great way to give back and celebrate his memory. We have a full list of donations today and we are very happy about it.
According to Connecticut Red Cross representative Danielle Huntington, 44 units were collected during Saturday’s event. The grand total of donations made in Colin’s name is 220. At the August 2021 drive in Burlington, 93 were collected in his memory, 35 were collected at a previous event in New Hartford and 48 at an event in Farmington.