Outpouring of support at Robert McKeithen Memorial Blood Drive

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There’s been an overwhelming outpouring of support for today’s first ever Robert McKeithen Memorial Blood Drive.

Biloxi Police Officer Robert McKeithen devoted most of his life to public service, working decades as a policeman. While his watch ended in the early morning hours of May 5th, 2019, his memory is not forgotten and his legacy of helping others lives on, as evidenced at this inaugural blood drive in his namesake.

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Major Larry Murphy was one of many law enforcement officers from throughout our area to roll up his sleeve and give blood in honor of his friend and long-time co-worker on the midnight shift. “One to support the cause. Two, donating blood is life. You’ve got to have life. You’ve got to have the blood to keep other people alive. I’ve been doing it for a long time. Like I said, I’ve donated over 25 gallons so far. It’s just something I need to do. It helps the community. It helps, like I say, the people who needed it when they need it.”

People from all walks of life flowed into Tuesday’s blood drive, including Bret Swynenberg and his wife, Vicki. They just moved to Vancleave from Texas and wasted no time rolling up their sleeves for this good cause. “I think it’s outstanding. It’s a small thing to do for the people in the community. Donating blood doesn’t take much time, and the hospitals are really in need of it right now. I support the Thin Blue Line. You’ve got to support the Thin Blue Line.”

Just two hours in, more than 100 people had stepped up to donate blood. Vitalant Blood Bank Donor Recruitment Representative John Pace said, “The plan is to have it every year on May 6th because on May 5th, they’re honoring him for his End of Watch, so we discussed it with the police and we’ll be doing this on May 6th, probably right here in the Biloxi Visitor’s Center. Beautiful site for a blood drive. Mac-Robert McKeithen, will ultimately be responsible for over 1,000 units of blood each year. That’s just amazing. That’s an amazing legacy. “

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Toni started at WXXV News 25 in December of 2013, just three months after the news was launched. She has served as Assignment Editor, anchored for nearly two years, worked as a reporter for several years and hosted Coastal Connections for more than four years. Toni graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern Mississippi where she was editor of the Student Printz. She then did an internship on Capitol Hill, working for a U.S. Senator, then returned to Mississippi as a reporter at WDAM in Hattiesburg. After that, she moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, working as a reporter for FOX 25 in Biloxi, then crossing city lines to work at WLOX-TV news in Biloxi, starting out as a producer, then working as a photographer, reporter, weekend assignment editor and weekend anchor. She was among the station team that won the Edward Murrow and Peabody awards for coverage during Hurricane Katrina. Toni moved to the Lone Star State where she worked as the morning and noon anchor, investigative reporter and live shot reporter for KZTV Action 10 News, then KRIS TV News in Corpus Christi, Texas. Toni moved back to the Magnolia State to be with and take care of her family, working as a multi-media journalist and fill-in anchor at WDBD Fox 40 news in Jackson. After almost completing a second degree in filmmaking at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast, Toni transitioned back to news at News 25. Toni is blessed to have a wonderful support network of close family, friends and mentors, and she hopes to pay it forward. She has a three-legged chiweenie named Rocky Balboa because of his fighting spirit. She loves writing and has completed a novel that has been adapted into a screenplay, and has just finished another screenplay called "Delta Rose." She's currently working on a new legal thriller called "Fall From Grace." Stay tuned.... If you’d like to book a live in studio interview on News 25 Today, just email: tmiles@wxxv25.com. These interviews can have up to two guests, last about two minutes and showcase community events, non-profit organizations and things of interest to people in our area…and they’re FREE! Just send information about your event, including date, time, location, contact number and/or website for viewers wanting more information, along with the proper name and titles of the person or two people who will be interviewed, and Toni or producer Porsha Williams (pwilliams@wxxv25.com) will get back with you via email in a timely manner to book a date. Typical interview times are daily at: 5:45, 6:45, 7:45 or 8:45 am. Guests are asked to arrive about 30 minutes beforehand. You can also ask about booking a live shot on location for news events for our 6 and 7 am newscasts. We look forwarding to having you!