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Great turnout for fifth Team Carolyn blood drive, organizer reports

The fifth Team Carolyn blood drive, and first held at the Bel Air Armory, was a major success Thursday, according to lead organizer Richard Lynch.

"It was very good," Lynch said Friday. "We ended up having to turn people away."

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Lynch, a resident of Bel Air, is the co-owner of the Buontempo Bros. pizza restaurant and Main Street Tower, both of which are on Main Street in downtown Bel Air.

His wife, Carolyn, was diagnosed with leukemia in June 2015. The cancer attacks blood and bone marrow, and her treatment included a stem cell transplant using stem cells donated by her brother.

Richard Lynch has been organizing blood drives in honor of his wife's battle since last summer. The first blood drive was held Aug. 31, 2015. The blood does not go to Carolyn, but to other patients in the community.

Lynch estimated that at least 70 units of blood were collected Thursday. Staffers with the American Red Cross of the Greater Chesapeake & Potomac Region drew blood from donors who were reclining on beds on the Armory gym floor.

The first four drives were at the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company's main firehouse on South Hickory Avenue. This was the first held at the Armory.

Thursday's drive was sponsored by the Red Cross, Buontempo Bros. and the Town of Bel Air.

Lynch and his business partners have been part of Bel Air for more than 30 years, and he wanted to include the town in Thursday's blood drive.

"I don't do this for myself," he said. "We live in a great, great town, a great county, and we're all part of the same community."

The blood collected Thursday, like the blood collected during past drives, goes to other patients in the Mid-Atlantic region served by the area Red Cross chapter.

"It's for the community," Richard Lynch said. "It stays local."

People were eager to support the blood drive, as they have been for past events.

Butch Henderson, a resident of Jarrettsville and the pharmacy director for Klein's ShopRite of Maryland, chatted with Lynch at the check-in table. Lynch and his longtime friend and blood drive volunteer, Patty Kany, checked the donors in and gave them the appropriate paperwork.

Henderson said he has known Lynch, as a customer at Buontempo Bros., for about 20 years.

"I don't want to miss an opportunity like this to help somebody local," he said.

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Lynch said later that his wife is "doing very well," and she is in remission from the cancer. She still has doctor's appointments twice a week, and she spends her free time caring for their grandchild.

Carolyn Lynch has said in the past that she needed donated blood during her cancer treatment.

"The blood saved her life, so that's why we feel it's important to do the blood drive," Richard Lynch said.

He said Friday he plans to continue organizing blood drives, scheduled around the times in which people can give blood.

People can give one pint of whole blood every 56 days, or they can give a "power red," which is two units of red blood cells only, every 112 days, or every 16 weeks, according to http://www.redcrossblood.org.

"We've been at the hospital, waiting for blood to come in, so I don't want anybody to wait," Lynch said.

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