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  • Writer's pictureNEIA Red Cross

A Legacy Worth Leaving: Wanda's Experience as a Red Crosser

By Chris Overman


Wanda Samson’s commitment to helping others originates through her experiences growing up on a farm and in the schools, churches and communities around Tarkio, Missouri. Soon after she graduated from Midland College in Fremont, Nebraska, and began teaching at Fremont High School, an inspirational leader emerged from the fertile soil of her early experiences in Northwest Missouri.


Samson walking in the Fremont Days Parade in 2019

Samson’s volunteer legacy began in the winter of 1972. The local AM radio DJ in Fremont sparked the flame when he asked listeners to donate blood as a Christmas present to those in need. “I don’t know what happened at that moment,” Samson said. “But once I donated that first pint, I became almost fanatical about giving blood and recruiting others to do the same.”    

 

During her 33-year teaching career at Fremont High School, Samson not only helped develop future business leaders, but she also helped develop future community leaders and volunteers. In 1998, Samson organized and implemented the Fremont High School blood drive. During her time leading that initiative, Samson worked tirelessly to recruit and inspire more donors. After she retired from teaching in 2005, the Fremont High Student Council took charge of the blood drive, and it continues to thrive.

 

 Samson looks forward to earning pins for each gallon of blood she donates.

 

“I am just shy of earning my 31st pin, and that makes me feel so good,” she said with a smile.“ One of my close friends received blood donations that extended her life and her quality of life during a recent illness. What a wonderful gift to give another person–life; and it’s easy, and painless.”

 

In 1998, the Wanda Samson Friend of Track Award was established by Fremont High School in honor of Samson’s volunteer work volunteering with the athletic department. She was inducted into the FHS Hall of Fame in January, 2024, for her contributions of keeping score for 4 different FHS teams beginning 50 years ago. In 2022, Samson received the American Red Cross Biomedical Services Award for her contributions.

 

“I got into teaching to develop good students that would do good things in business,” she said.  “I ended up helping my students, myself and maybe a few others to be even better people; and that is a legacy worth leaving”.

 

Samson at the Fremont Hy-Vee Veteran Breakfast in 2023

Samson continues to set a great example for others to follow by supporting her community in many ways including as a Red Cross blood donor and volunteer. She’s a generous supporter of the Red Cross and volunteers at blood drives and other events such as Pass the Bucket, where volunteers collect financial donations from fans at University of Nebraska football, basketball and volleyball games.

 

March is Red Cross Month, when the Red Cross recognizes those who support its mission through volunteering, donating financially or giving blood. Samson’s support touches many areas of the Red Cross. It is an impressive legacy she has developed.

 

For more information on volunteer and fundraising opportunities, visit redcross.org.

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