As a lifelong emergency services worker, Dennis Hacket has made it his top priority to save as many lives as he can! Even in retirement he has a mission to help people. On Friday, July 15, he was honored for giving his 50th gallon of donated blood at LifeSouth Community Blood Centers, 12395 Cortez Blvd. in Brooksville. This milestone equals 400 individual donations and 399 pints of blood given.
“An incredible achievement not only in the blood donation world, but for any kind of volunteer work,” said Marisa Pacchiarotti, LifeSouth media and outreach contact for Hernando County and surrounding areas and District Community Development Coordinator. “Few people ever hit this donation mark and he has been donating with us for decades.”
When Hacket came in for his regular donation on July 15, LifeSouth awarded him with a plaque, a personalized cake, and a room adorned with colorful balloons that spelled out fifty. In addition, the Director of Business Development of the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce Michael Congemi was on hand to award the donor with an honorary Chamber Membership. “They who give blood, give life,” said Congemi. “This is the ultimate act of community service.”
Hacket came bearing a gift of his own for LifeSouth; a heart-shaped cake to show his appreciation for the agency that provides needed blood for hospitals and cancer treatment centers in Hernando County and beyond. “I am so proud to be able to help them,” he said. “I’ve been donating blood since 1979. That’s more than forty years.”
Hacket is a second generation firefighter whose late son also shared this exalted job title. He has made a life of helping others, also working as a disaster relief worker who was on site at the Hurricane Katrina and Space Shuttle disasters.
When it comes to his blood donation efforts, Hacket cites a particularly personal motivation for his efforts. “My father in law had leukemia, and always needed platelets,” he explained. “Platelets are needed for critical care, so that’s what I give.” When Dennis donated his 50th gallon of blood he was accompanied by his wife Deborah, who sat by his side the whole time. “I’m so proud of him,” she said.
Pacchiarotti presented Hacket with his commemorative plaque and abundant praise for his wonderful fifty gallon milestone. “Fifty gallon blood donations are so rare that we don’t have a fifty gallon pin,” she explained, adding with a smile, “We’ll have to give you two twenties and a ten.” And Hacket isn’t done yet. He stated “I’m going for a hundred!”