The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

July 14, 2014

Bereft mother to hold blood drive in son’s memory

MADISON TOWNSHIP —  It’s been a year of tears and grief for Melissa Zirkle – a year of coming to terms with the drowning death of her son Jermaine “Fresh” Zirkle, a year of honoring his memory and working to educate people about the dangers of Lake Erie’s waters.

Zirkle will host a blood drive with the American Red Cross on July 21 at Cornerstone Friends Church on Hubbard Road in Madison Township. The blood drive will be held from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. and will include a back-to-school basket raffle.

Zirkle said nothing makes her loss easier or even less, but she takes comfort in the people around her, the people who knew and loved her son, and programs that benefit her community.

“Jermaine was missing in Lake Erie for 63 hours after being caught in a rip current,” she said. “The outpour of help from the surrounding communities was amazing. We are still hearing from people about how they were looking for him and praying for Jermaine, as well as the family. On behalf of our entire family and close friends, we would like to host the blood drive in Jermaine’s memory as a way of repaying the community for all of their support during Jermaine’s search, and after.”

Jermaine died on July 12, just two weeks before his 14th birthday. July 27 would have been his 15th birthday.

Zirkle said she hopes to host an annual blood drive in Jermaine’s honor.

"We want to thank all of those who helped us a year ago, whether it was by saying a prayer, by helping us look for Jermaine, sending a card, or even a kind word,” she said. “We could never repay each of you, but we are confident that hosting this blood drive is a great way to pay it forward. We plan to host a drive in Jermaine’s memory annually."

Zirkle said she is certain this is the kind of memorial Jermaine would have wanted.

“Jermaine spent so much of his time helping people any way that he could,” she said. “He once went with me to donate blood and I know for certain that he was proud that I was helping save someone’s life. This is the reason I decided to host a blood drive in Jermaine’s memory.”

Now her son’s legacy has become her life’s mission.

“Since Jermaine passed away, I have made it my mission to save as many lives as I possibly can, as a way of honoring my son’s life and his love for others. I know of the countless lives we could help to save with a blood drive.”

More than almost anything, Zirkle said people can help her, and Jermaine, by helping others.

“Since Jermaine’s accident, many people have asked what they can do to help out,” she said. “The best thing they can do, besides prayer, is to help me honor Jermaine’s life by donating at our blood drive. Lets help save lives in honor of a really fantastic kid who loved the world!”

The blood drive is open to the public. Donors can register at Please enter 44057 in the search and click on the July 21 blood drive.

All donors will be entered to win a back to school gift basket.

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