For the 17th year in a row, Sioux Falls Fire Rescue and the Sioux Falls Police Department are out for blood. As Nancy Naeve Brown tells us the two departments are competing in the annual "Heroes Behind the Badges" Blood Drive and they need all of you to roll up your sleeves too.
Captain Jim Powers with Sioux Falls Fire Rescue has been a part of the "Heroes Behind the Badges" Blood Drive since its inception 17 years ago, but he's actually been giving blood way before he ever wore the badge. In fact, he is now officially a VIP blood donor. This marks his 10th gallon of donated blood.
Jim says, "The reason I like to give is my blood is considered quint blood. It can be used for infants and preemies. I try to give as often as I can because it impacts the smallest and most fragile lives."
Sioux Falls Police Officer Rose Barker donates her blood because she says it's the right thing to do and bragging rights for the traveling trophy only ads a little more incentive.
Rose says, "I think it's important because it gives something back to the community and plus the donations are low this time and year and this is a definite need for blood."
Although Captain Jim and Officer Rose wear different uniforms, they enjoy this friendly competition between the two departments because it garners the gift of life at a time when people are swept up by the hustle and the bustle of the season and forget to give. Donations to the Community Blood Bank are consistently down 25% from Christmas through the New Year. In 2010 the "Heroes Behind the Badges" Blood Drive brought in 862 pints of blood.
Community Blood Bank Executive Director Ken Versteeg says, "I encourage people to come in and give the gift of life this holiday season because it does become very difficult during the holidays to maintain an adequate blood supply. Everything that's donated here stays here for local use and we definitely need their support this time of year."
Jim says, "This is just another extension of what the fire department and police already do; work with the citizens everyday and try to help and this is an extension of that."
Rose says, "Give a little of yourself. It costs nothing but your time. It's the greatest gift you can give to someone else."
So whether the police department takes home the trophy again this year for having collected the most pints or that prize goes to fire rescue that last one in 2009, the heroes behind the badges really know anyone who gives their blood during this season of giving, or anytime, is really the hero. So be heroic and give the gift of life.
And if you come in to donate during the drive you'll be showing your support for hospital patients, firefighters and police officers, and the two charities they are giving the winning money to put up by Citibank and that's Special Olympics of South Dakota and the Children's Home Society. One will get $350 and one will get $150.
The heroes behind the badges blood drive kicks off Tuesday December 27th and runs through January 7th. Donors can choose a specially designed police or fire T-shirt for donating blood while supplies last. You'll also get a certificate for a free appetizer from Texas Roadhouse.
The Avera McKennan Blood Bank looks forward to having you come in.
***Apheresis donations require appointments. ***
Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center
Whole Blood Hours: