Inspired a their personal loss, a local family partnered with the American Red Cross to host a blood drive in memory of their loved one to help save lives.

The Palsa family of Carlisle hosted a local blood drive Jan. 15 in the Carlisle First United Methodist Church Family Life Center. The drive was in memory of John Leslie Palsa, who lost his battle to cancer on Aug. 18, 2013.

"Blood donation is down nationwide," Melanie Brown, Palsa’s sister said. "We felt it was important to give back."

According to Brown, her brother used used 23 units of blood while at UAMS hospital, during a fight against a extremely rare cancer. With a blood type of the rare O negative, the blood Palsa needed was always in constant demand. After his two month battle with cancer, Palsa lost the fight at the age of 33.

"In times that affect your family, it makes you hyper aware of the need that is ever present," Brown said.

Palsa was a graduate of Carlisle High School and a graduate of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro with a degree in Agricultural Business and a degree in marketing. Upon graduation he returned to Carlisle and pursued his lifelong passions of farming and traveling. Palsa was described by his family as someone who never met a stranger and never judged a book by its cover.

According to Brown, 60 units of blood were collected during the memorial drive, just 40 units short of their anticipated goal. She said she is thankful for everyone who donated and very proud of the 20 high school students who came to give blood.

"I am very grateful for everyone who came and gave," Brown said. "We didn’t quite meet that [the 100 unit goal], but I am still very pleased!"

A soup luncheon was also held during the blood drive to raise scholarship funds. Presenting donors received handmade thank you cards created by LeAnn Brazeal’s eighth grade Character Education class at Carlisle High School. These students wanted to contribute to the Red Cross mission but are too young to donate blood.

Due to the outcome of the drive, Brown said the Palsa family hopes to partner with American Red Cross again in the future.

"I am hopeful that we’ll make this an annual event to honor John," Brown said.

According to the American Red Cross website, all blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in before giving. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

For more information about the American Red Cross, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767)or visit You can also follow them on Twitter at @RedCross.