Bills fans came out in record numbers for the American Red Cross blood drive on Tuesday, November 8th in the Paul Maguire Club at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Billy Buffalo and the Buffalo Jills Cheerleaders joined Bills players including linebacker Kelvin Sheppard, cornerback Aaron Williams, safety George Wilson, safety Bryan Scott, linebacker Arthur Moats and quarterback/wide receiver Brad Smith. 97 Rock also gave out prizes and held a live remote with DJ Jickster.
Wilson and Williams are spokespersons for the event and encourage saving lives by donating blood.
"It's a great event and great cause," said Wilson. "You just never know whose life you are saving by donating blood, and it's such a selfless act. You are giving life by giving a part of yourself."
"It was so awesome to come in and see how many people want to donate blood," said Williams. "This is only my first year in the league but the city of Buffalo and the community has come through for so many events and shown their support, and I'm just really happy to be here to be a part of it all."
The Bills and American Red Cross blood donation event included 479 presenting donors and 401 units of donated blood which is a Western New York regional record. The next closest event was in 2007 with 412 donors and 379 units.
Other Western New York regional blood donation records broken included 84 first-time donors (old record 64) and 42 double-red donors (old record 36) with 80 units of donated blood (old record 66).
"The partnership between the American Red Cross and the Buffalo Bills just keeps getting better," said Mary Grupka, American Red Cross executive director. "We are very excited! Clearly record breaking numbers. This has just been so impressive, and I'm very grateful to the Bills team and their efforts that has helped to make this event a success. The support from the players is always great, and I think we are going to be saving close to 1,000 lives so definitely not bad for a day's work!"
In addition to snacks and refreshments, Bills fans that donated blood also received a $5 gift card from Subway, a commemorative Bills t-shirt and the opportunity to tour the Bills stadium.
The event attracted many donors but also people who have been saved because of blood donations.
"When I was 23, I was put on a antibiotic and had a rare allergic reaction to it, and it caused my platelets from 250,000 – 300,000 down to 1,000," said Sharon Redfield of Fredonia, NY. "I looked like I had been run over by a truck. I had so few platelets when I was in the hospital in Cortland, they couldn't even transport me to a bigger hospital to get me more treatment due to the fear of brain bleed. They finally had to send up to Syracuse for a perfect match for platelet donation, and that's the only reason I'm here today."
Redfield added, "One donation saves lives. You can save a life, you can save many lives. With me, I was saved. Without those donations, I wouldn't be here and now I'm proud to say that I'm here with three wonderful children...and if I wouldn't have received the necessary donations when I was younger, my boys never would have been born."