The Buffalo Bills and American Red Cross hosted their second successful blood drive of the year at Ralph Wilson Stadium on November 16th. Nearly 250 people donated blood and with each blood donation, the American Red Cross is able to save three lives.
Special appearances were made throughout the day by select Bills players including Blood Drive spokesperson and safety George Wilson, nose tackles Kyle Williams and Torell Troup, wide receiver Steve Johnson and offensive linemen Eric Wood and Andy Levitre.
The Buffalo Jills cheerleaders and Billy Buffalo, the team mascot, were also in attendance. DJ Jickster from 97 Rock was on-hand for a live radio remote and gave away prizes for fans donating blood. All donors received a complimentary commemorative t-shirt for their support. Donors were also permitted to take a tour of the game day locker room and go on the field for a photo opportunity.
"Today was an absolutely outstanding day in regards to the support that the Buffalo Bills gave the American Red Cross for our blood drive," said Mary Grupka, District Director for the American Red Cross Biomedical Services. "This is the first one that we've done in this point of the season, and it exceeded all kinds of expectations."
The Bills players were instrumental in supporting the blood drive.
"I'm happy to support the American Red Cross and the community of Buffalo," said Kyle Williams. "It's so important to give blood. I fall into that small 7% of people that have O-negative blood and as soon as the season's over I plan on giving a little of my liquid gold to the American Red Cross."
"There's a lot of different ways to give, you can give your time, you can give your money, but to come out and give blood today that's the ultimate sacrifice because you give life," said George Wilson. "When you give a part of your life to help someone else - a complete stranger that you may never know, that's the true meaning of service."
Steve Johnson was excited to spend some time with community members, and surprised at how much blood is needed every day.
"Even though I can't give blood during the season, I'm so grateful and blessed to be a part of today," said Johnson. "I just learned today that 38,000 people need blood every day and that's such a large and crazy number – I encourage everyone if they can donate, please do. The City of Buffalo and Western New York isn't just the community to me, it's part of my family. I'm from California but living here in Buffalo most of the year I feel like it's my extended family. The Blood Drive wasn't just an autograph session, it's about spending time with the community and the family that is Buffalo and Western New York."
Even with the inclement weather, Western New Yorkers and Bills fans came out and donated blood in large numbers.
"It's always amazing to me what a giving and community minded organization the Bills are," said Grupka. "When you come right up to it they come through every time - never ceases to amaze us and we feel very fortunate to have developed such a strong partnership. Thanks to them, in the past 56 days we've collected well over 500 units of blood and saved and made a difference in 1,500 people's lives."
For more information on the American Red Cross, visit www.buffaloredcross.org or call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE.