Life at Canterbury for me is retiring with dignity for body, mind and soul.
- Canterbury Resident
Resident Profile: Jim Cupido
Jim Cupido donated blood for nearly 40 years. When he was told he couldn't donate anymore due to his age, he started a letter writing campaign and won! Now seniors can donate blood no matter what age they are, as long as they are in good health. Read the full story!
Jim Cupido, Manor resident, grew up in Holland during the Second World War. Through those troubled times, his father always told him “giving builds character.”
Those words have guided him throughout his life.
In 1950, when he was just 19, Jim moved to Canada on his own, sponsored by an Ontario farmer. By 1953 he’d met and married his wife Bernice and moved to Edmonton. There he worked as a butcher and eventually became a self-employed house painter. Through it all he remained grateful to Canadians for giving their lives to free Holland during the war, so when Bernice encouraged him to start giving blood in 1964, it seemed like the right thing to do. Donating was the one way he felt he could repay the country that saved his life.
“As soon as I started giving blood, it became a habit; a very good habit to have. Jesus gave his blood so that we might live, so I give my blood so that others may live”, says Jim, a devout Christian who’s active in his church.
At 71, after nearly 40 years as a regular donor and advocate for donation, the unthinkable happened: Jim was told he could no longer donate because of his age.
“I was healthy and hadn’t been sick for 50 years, and I know blood was always needed,” Jim says. “I was in good shape and was really frustrated by the decision.”
Undaunted, he started a two-year letter writing campaign to have the policy changed.
“I wrote 18 letters to government representatives like Health Minister Allan Rock and Prime Minister Paul Martin,” says Jim. “I knew they were low in blood. This was a battle I thought I could win, so I kept on going and was not going to give up.”
And win he did. The policy was changed and as of December 2004, donors over the age of 71, including Jim, were allowed to donate as long as they met certain health requirements.
“Everyone was very, very happy and I had a lump in my throat,” says Jim. “Because of this, over 9000 people in Alberta alone could donate blood again”.
In honour of his hard work, Jim received the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award in 2008.
“I was not aware that my name had been put forward until three weeks before I got it,” he says. “It was presented at Government House here is Edmonton so my family and friends could be there. It was quite an honour.”
Jim continued to donate for four more years and then his role with us evolved. A heart condition meant he could no longer donate, but it did lead him to be a volunteer, a roles he’s embraced.
“As a volunteer, I talk to people and encourage them to come back. I appreciate it very much because the people that walk in have somebody else in mind besides themselves. It makes me feel good to see other people being generous.”
“It’s also very rewarding now, because every week, I see people who are still able to donate because I raised the limit.”
Lori Bosko, our Edmonton event coordinator, has known Jim for 14 years.
“He’s directly and indirectly touched the lives of many Canadians, offering them hope when they needed it the most,” she says. “He truly exemplifies the power of the human spirit and we are extremely fortunate to be associated with him.”
Jim’s just celebrated his 83rd birthday and says his greatest achievement is being faithful with the things he does, like supporting Canadian Blood Services for 50 years. “It’s not about the big things you do, but being faithful to the little things is important.” he says.
A self-taught musician and painter, Jim is also generous with his talents. Two of his paintings adorn the walls of the Edmonton Clinic and every holiday season, he entertains donors and staff with his violin. Faithfully abiding his father’s advice after all these years, Jim hopes to be remembered for sharing and doing things for others.
“This spring I thought I would leave, but people said ‘don’t you dare, we want you to come back’,” he says with a laugh. “You build up relationships with people and you don’t want to lose them so I keep on coming back. I’m hooked, but I guess I could be hooked on worse things.”
©2014 Canadian Blood Services.