Trent Edwards wore a smile as he gladly posed for "just one more" photo and signed countless autographs Friday afternoon. The Buffalo Bills' quarterback was caught up in the feeling of gratitude shared by donors and their families as he and other members of the team helped launch the third annual American Red Cross blood drive at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
"I've been doing this for the past couple seasons," Edwards said. "I always enjoy the blood drive here at the stadium, and its something I look forward to every year. It holds a special place in my heart for the Red Cross, and any time I can use my name and use the Buffalo Bills to attract more people and attract more blood donors, I feel like I need to be doing that. It's a great cause, a good turn out so far, and hopefully we can get good numbers."
Besides Edwards, Bills safety George Wilson and offensive lineman Kirk Chambers also gave their time, as many Buffalo natives donated their blood to benefit the American Red Cross. The players have been practicing at the Bills' OTAs all week, and this event gave them the chance to show their capabilities off the field.
Edwards and Wilson spent their time encouraging and thanking donors for taking the time to give back to their community.
"I plan on going around and thanking people, to show them my appreciation on behalf of the Buffalo Bills and the American Red Cross, because they don't have to do this," Wilson said. "Giving a part of yourself, like blood, that's a part of you, and that's the ultimate sacrifice. You're giving a part of yourself to someone else in order to sustain their life."
The team is focused on preparing for the season, battling for starting positions, and various other challenges that will be coming their way. However, they are aware of the importance of giving back.
Buffalo is known for its great fan support, and that showed in the turn out for the blood drive. Last season, former tight end Robert Royal helped out at the blood drive. Being the competitors they are, Edwards and Wilson hope to surpass the number of donors from last year.
"I spoke with Rob Royal earlier yesterday, and I know when Rob was involved with it last season, he said they had record numbers last year," said Edwards. "Now that Rob's not here and George is helping us out, and we've got some more guys coming in, we want to try to break that record from last year, I told Rob we were going to break the record. Hopefully we can."
This event at Ralph Wilson Stadium is expected to have a higher volume due to player involvement.
"Trent Edwards and the Buffalo Bills in general have been a phenomenal help to the American Red Cross," Said Kay Schwartz, C.E.O. of the American Red Cross Blood Services, New York-Penn Region. "We couldn't be happier to be holding this event here."