Red Cross

Red Cross Romance: Two Local Platelet Donors Are Saving Lives and Falling In Love

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Connected by their commitment to save lives, Cindy Guendert and Jerry Tacinelli’s love story started at the Red Cross Donation Center in Farmington. More than a year later, they’re writing their next chapter.

"Mom always said that you should go someplace and do something that you enjoy doing and you might just meet somebody there,” Guendert said. “I didn't think it was going to be here."

Cindy and Jerry are frequent platelet donors and first connected through the American Red Cross Platelet Donors Facebook group. After exchanging a few messages, they agreed to meet in person.

"I was on my best behavior,” Tacinelli said. "I asked if she'd like to go for coffee at a local diner and she agreed. And that was our first date"

After a lot of laughing and undeniable chemistry, they set up their next date later that night. And their third date shortly thereafter.

"I think this one was kind of make it or break it for him," Guendert said.

Jerry asked Cindy to a picnic at Hammonasset Beach State Park in late November.

"He told me later, he says, 'any woman who agrees to go to the beach in November, that's the woman for me!'"

Their love continued to grow over platelet "date-lets" -- when they would schedule their 3-hour platelet donations for the same time. Val Sarnacki, an employee of the Red Cross played her part as cupid.  

"She used to arrange our donations, even got us in chairs next to each other,” Tacinelli said. "It brought us together, you know? Had we not been donors we would have never met."

Cindy and Jerry have close ties to the importance of donating. Cindy is a breast cancer survivor, and lost her father to leukemia.  Jerry also lost his mother to cancer. And while the Red Cross brought them together, they’re making the commitment to stay together.

"When he got down on his knee on the beach a year, almost to the day after our third date, I was really surprised because it was a pear shape which looks like a blood drop," says Cindy.

"She just has a zest for life,” Tacinelli said.  “I don't know if it's because she survived cancer and she treasures every day but she's a joy to be with. I've never been happier in my entire life."

"How can you not love somebody who just looks at you with so much love in their eyes and thinks you're the greatest thing since sliced bread," Guendert said.

It's a great love story and a great reminder about the importance of donating platelets.

The Red Cross donation center in Farmington is actually the only place in Connecticut you can donate platelets. For more information on how you can help save lives like Cindy and Jerry, click here.

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