Over 350 presenting donors attended the fifth annual American Red Cross Blood Drive held at Ralph Wilson Stadium on June 24, 2011. Though the goal for the event was 200 units of blood, Bills fans came through and donated a total of 299 units of blood which greatly surpassed all expectations.
"We find that a lot of the Bills fans who are very loyal and dedicated people, as you know, translate into great blood donors who are loyal and dedicated to our cause," said Mary Grupka, American Red Cross district director.
Giving blood at the Bills stadium always includes special amenities for donors. At this fifth annual event, fans received a complimentary t-shirt, a complimentary Bills 2010 game jersey courtesy of Delaware North Companies, complimentary tickets to the Bills Uniform Launch event, and opportunities to win other great Bills prizes. 97 Rock broadcasted live from the event, the Buffalo Jills Cheerleaders were in attendance and Billy Buffalo also made an appearance.
The tie-in with the Bills Uniform Launch event was a fan favorite. Fans took advantage of the complimentary tickets to the event held the same evening and recognized the importance of their donations.
"We made the eight-hour drive to Orchard Park to come for the jersey unveiling and to donate blood," said brother and sister tandem Rich and Theresa Foley, from Long Island, NY. "We've been season ticket holders for the past six years. We make the drive every home game and we haven't missed a game in the past six years. We are die-hard Bills fans and wouldn't have missed this day."
The Foley's added, "Blood donation is really big to us. We donate palettes very often at home. We can help save lives and still see the new jersey. It's a win-win."
"I officially met my 11 gallon mark of donating blood which is 88 donations," said Pauline Szylkowski of Elma, NY. "I'm O positive which is a universal blood where many people can receive it. I haven't had anybody in my life ever need blood at a moment's notice, but I know that if I was ever in that position and one of my family members needed a transfusion or something, I would be heartbroken if there was a shortage for them."
The blood donations took place all day from 11 a.m. and lasted through the early part of the Bills Uniform Launch event.
"The part that we are most excited about is that it's the fifth year we've had a blood drive here in the stadium supported by the Buffalo Bills," said Grupka. "It's been a tremendous relationship, from where it started into where it's evolved. It's evolved into a really nice co-branding opportunity between the Red Cross and the Bills, and we think they're both strong brands with a lot to offer, well recognized in the community. It's a natural fit and a great partnership. It's created a nice awareness."
For more information regarding blood donations, visit buffaloredcross.org.