For the past 17 years "The Heroes Behind the Badge" has been a battle of blood between the Sioux Falls Police and Sioux Falls Fire Rescue.
"It gets all our friends and family in and everyone we know because people are going to donate on our behalf or the police department's behalf and it really gets competitive and it's a really fun time." Said Captain Grant Van Riesen, with Sioux Falls Fire Rescue.
The annual blood drive helps generate nearly 90% of the blood needed to get the hospitals through the holidays. But for Captain Van Riesen and Matt Jorgenson with the Sioux Falls Crime Lab, giving blood allows them to give back even more.
20 years ago, Matt was on his way back from the Twin Cities, when slippery roads caused another driver to lose control and strike his car.
"I went through the window at about 50 miles an hour and crushed the entire right side of my face and without blood donors I would've been in a lot of trouble." Said Jorgenson.
Matt had seven titanium plates put in his face. He not only got a new nose out of the deal but a renewed outlook on life.
"This scar, the glass cut all the way through and took all of the white off of my right eye." Said Jorgenson.
Matt says he's been living on borrowed time thanks to blood donors and he's donated regularly ever since. Captain Van Riesen has always been a blood donor, but when his daughter Maci was born at just 26 weeks, his donations started meaning a whole lot more.
"When she was in the NICU for 126 days, every little blood sample that they had to take every single day really caused her to not be able to make enough blood for self because she was so premature." Said Captain Van Riesen.
Maci had seven blood transfusions during her first four months of life. She like the other premature babies in the NICU, required O-negative blood, the universal donor blood type.
"Without those donations she'd be in bad shape or probably not even here." Said Captain Van Riesen.
Only 7% of people in the United States have this blood type, making their donations extremely rare. But one blood type is not valued above the other, donations are always needed regardless of type.
Many people may get squeamish from needles and blood, but donating is not as bad as you think. Your slight discomfort could be what saves someone else's life.
"It's a simple trip, inside of a half hour of your day it's amazing what you're able to give." Said Jorgenson.
"It's really not that huge a deal to do it but the effects that you have on people are well worth it and being able to help people is the most important thing." Said Captain Van Riesen.
So this holiday season if you're still looking for a way to give back, why not take a seat and give the gift that really counts? Because you never know the life you save, could be your own.
If you want to donate blood you can donate at either hospital until January 4th. Donors will get a free T-shirt and a gift certificate to Texas Roadhouse.
For more information about donating blood just call 877-AT-AVERA.
Click here for additional donation sites