Our rivalry against the University of Virginia just turned red. Virginia Blood Services is sponsoring a blood drive taking the rivalry off of the football field and placing it a little earlier in November.
The Crimson War Blood Drive is happening through the end of the week on campus. The event is a competition between UVa and Virginia Tech to see who can collect the most blood from their students. Plans are being made for the winner to be announced at the home football game against UVa on Nov. 24.
“The goal is to collect 150 units in two days, and whoever is able to meet that goal or even exceed it, will be recognized as the winning school and receive either a trophy or a plaque,” said Lindsay Bade, the donor recruitment representative for the Red Cross.
Donation stations will be set up at Owens, Pritchard and the Ambler Johnston’s residence halls from noon–6 p.m on Friday, as they have been throughout this week. Students can sign up for an appointment through the Crimson War Blood Drive Facebook event.
The donation stations will have free food from local shops and restaurants, among other perks.
“Each presenting donor will receive a ‘blood drive challenge’ t-shirt and will be entered into a drawing for a door prize. There will be special food and possibly an appearance by the Hokie Bird,” Bade said.
The event is being co-hosted by the SGA, the Interfraternity Council, the Marching Virginians and Alpha Epsilon Delta, the health professional honor society at Tech.
Senior biology major Sirisha Iruvanti is the president of AED, the largest health-related organization at Tech. Iruvanti is also the director of community initiatives for the SGA and helped coordinate its involvement in the event.
“Basically, this is doing a great job of combining health and service, so contributing to a blood drive like the American Red Cross is like perfect for us,” Iruvanti said. “Alpha Epsilon Delta is, at its core, a service organization, so we are proud to be supporting a cause that promotes the health and well-being of others in our community who may be sick or injured."
Anthony Malizia, a senior finance major, is the director of philanthropy and community service for IFC.
“It was originally a blood drive battle between Maryland and UVa," Malizia said. "Every year, IFC teamed up with Virginia Blood Services to sponsor a blood drive between both universities. Eventually, Maryland stopped participating and we thought it would be cool to start a new one."
He was contacted by UVa student Stephen West and they began thinking about a new version of the program.
“We really saw the event as something that can continue in the future and also saw it as a chance for the fraternity community to come together, host a school-wide event for everyone to participate in and donate blood that will specifically impact Virginia lives,” Malizia said. “And what’s better than beating UVa?”
If successful, hopes are high for continuing the program.
“This will be the first time we are doing the challenge and we would like to continue it to make it an annual event and hope that it grows to become a larger event each year,” Bade said.
The abrupt arrival of Hurricane Sandy has made the drive more essential.
“Due to Superstorm Sandy, we have recently lost more than 300 blood drives thus far, which amounts to more than 9,000 units of blood we will not be collecting. In doing this challenge, it is imperative that we collect as much blood as possible to ensure that we can supply the hospitals adequately,” Bade said.
While Sandy will affect the number of people available to donate, hospital patients still need blood. The Red Cross has begun moving blood products to the affected areas as necessary, but nationwide, around 44,000 blood donations are needed to meet the needs of accident victims, cancer patients and children with blood disorders.
“When disaster strikes, the need for blood does not diminish, even though blood donors may find it difficult or impossible to get to a convenient donation opportunity," Bade said. "It’s the blood that is already on the shelves that helps save lives before, during and after a disaster.”
Kennyth Byrd, a senior sociology major, knows the importance of donating frequently.
“I give blood as often as possible, typically every eight weeks, sometimes every 16 if I give the double donation because I just like the satisfaction of knowing that I have saved lives doing so,” Byrd said. “I have the most common blood type, so I know that I can help whoever needs it.”
Byrd knows his body can make up for deficiencies others can’t. Sometimes they can be life-threatening, especially in times of natural disasters.
“I figure that I am able to replenish it," Byrd said. "So why not take it out and give it to someone who needs it."