“He’d give you the shirt off his back”: Community to put on blood drive for teen battling for his life
“Positivity.” “Selflessness.” “Excellence.” “Adventurous.” “Unique.” “A fixture at our school.”
Family members, friends, and community members describe Chase Milligan, a 17-year-old junior at Bear River High School, as a person with maturity beyond his years, as an outstanding athlete on the football team, as a history buff, and as someone known for his selflessness, his contagious positivity, and his smile.
Now, as Chase fights for his life after suffering critical injuries in a single-vehicle car wreck last week on Highway 49, community members are putting on a blood drive on behalf of the family to honor Chase and turn an unexpected tragedy into a life-saving awareness campaign.
The drive, which will be managed directly by the blood donation nonprofit Vitalant, will be held from 1 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Bear River High School, 11130 Magnolia Road, according to event organizers.
Chase’s father, Scott Milligan, said that blood donations have been crucial to Chase’s recovery after the car crash left him with extreme burn injuries, which have required him to undergo multiple surgeries since then. The blood drive is important to the Milligan family, but it’s also critical in bolstering the reserves of blood banks, many of which have been struggling with lackluster donations attributable to the pandemic, Scott said.
“The blood drive is great for the community, and it gives people something tangible and important to do,” he added. “If it wasn’t for the blood products Chase has been getting, there’s no way he would be able to be alive today.”
Chris Roberts, principal of Bear River High School, spoke of Chase as a kind, positive, caring young man who was known at school for engaging in intellectual conversations with teachers and other adults. The blood drive reflects the selfless character of both Chase and the whole Milligan family, he added.
“Chase is the kind of kid who would give you the shirt off his back,” Roberts said. “He’s always positive, always smiling, never shies away from a conversation, and has a great perspective and outlook on life. I’ve heard nothing but positive things about him from teachers, coaches, and students.”
Roberts added that the proposal for the school to host the blood drive came from Grass Valley resident Christina Rainwater, who is friends with Chase’s parents, Scott and Lori. Rainwater expressed that organizing the blood drive felt like the right thing to do on behalf of the Milligans, given the circumstances, adding that their two families have been close ever since her son, Lawrence (also 17) started playing football at Bear River with Chase.
“I needed a way to direct the energy I felt about what was happening with Chase, and it just all really hit home for us,” she said. “I just wanted to do something for him and his family…so I talked to Lawrence and I said we’re gonna do a blood drive for Chase.”
What followed was a community-wide effort to raise awareness for Wednesday’s event, with Rainwater, Lawrence, and a whole team of Bear River students and community members helping pass out fliers all over Grass Valley.
While appointments for the blood drive can be made online through the information on the fliers, Rainwater said that appointment slots for next week’s event are going fast, and anyone who wants to donate but is unable to secure an appointment in time will still likely be able to donate through walk-ups at the drive.
From a local florist shop supplying free balloons for the day of the blood drive to a Grass Valley church spreading the word about the event, Rainwater said that she has been amazed by the communal response to the situation. She also emphasized the extraordinary support the Milligans have received from the football parent community of Bear River in particular.
“Bear River is special. Our kids grew up playing pee wee football together,” she said. “It’s a family, really. And I think you’d do anything for your family.”
Lawrence, who is currently a sophomore at Bear River, described Chase as both a tremendous teammate and a loyal friend.
“Chase and I were like brothers,” he said. “He is really an excellent person to be around, he just understands a lot of stuff.”
Lawrence spoke of Chase not only as a great teammate but as an intellectually driven person who loved studying history, an interest repeatedly emphasized by his father Scott.
“He loved soaking up books on World War II battles and strategy, he knew everything about war strategy,” Scott said, also noting Chase’s passion for astronomy and studying the stars.
Outside of academic subjects and sports, Scott described his son as an adventurer who enjoyed riding motorcycles with his dad, going on family road trips, skiing, and fishing, among other outdoor passions. Scott also spoke of Chase’s aspirations of becoming an Air Force pilot after graduating college.
“From day one he’s been very unique, completely adventurous, he wants to do everything he can do and just talk to everyone within a hundred yards of him.”
The Milligans have received overwhelming levels of support, not just from community residents but from people all over the world who have been following Chase’s story through social media, Scott said, describing thousands of messages he’s received on Facebook and on his phone from people expressing support for the family.
“We’ve been blown away by the outpour of support in this community. Literally hundreds of friends, and thousands of people around the world have told us that they’re praying for us, and it’s really showing how much Chase means to people.”
Stephen Wyer is a staff writer for The Union. He can be reached at email@example.com
Visit donors.vitalant.org and enter blood drive code SMFI002
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