MTSU‘s 10-year friendly blood-drive rivalry with an old football foe has always had only one goal: helping save the lives of neighbors with blood from donors on both campuses.
This year, when the pandemic left campus event and athletic schedules uncertain, MTSU moved forward with a big new True Blue blood drive plan: a three-day solo event, set noon-6 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, Sept. 28-30, to help refill the American Red Cross‘ nearly bare shelves.
Event capacity restrictions, however, left MTSU organizers searching for a site for the drive. Enter the neighbors at North Boulevard Church of Christ, only a quarter mile north of campus at 1112 N. Rutherford Blvd., which is opening its gymnasium for the three days of MTSU blood-donor traffic.
Appointments also are easy to schedule with the Red Cross Blood Donor app or by texting “BLOODAPP” to 90999. Walk-in donors also will be welcome.
All donors will receive a free T-shirt, a coupon via email for a free haircut from SportClips, and a free COVID-19 antibody test.
The MTSU blood drive is open, as always, to students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends and neighbors across Middle Tennessee.
The Red Cross requires all donors to wear masks while giving blood. Red Cross staffers also wear masks to protect donors, volunteers, co-workers and guests.
“The Red Cross has contacted us with an urgent need for blood, and even though it will look different this year during the pandemic, we’re going to step up and be True Blue and help our community here in Murfreesboro!” said MTSU Campus Recreation Associate Director Ray Wiley, a longtime Red Cross volunteer and blood donor who organizes the annual “Bleed Blue, Beat WKU” drives.
“We are all in this together with our three-day MTSU ‘Bleed Blue to Beat the COVID-19 Blues’ Blood Drive. We’re asking the entire campus community to help us by donating blood if they can.
“We also have campus volunteers to work … to register donors when they arrive, serve snacks to donors at the canteen after they give blood, or promote the event, all to help others with the gift of lifesaving blood.”
This isn’t the first time MTSU’s worked alone to help save lives. Beginning in 2010, the university and its longtime rival Western Kentucky held three-day fall blood drives and celebrated the top pints-getter when they met in the Blue Raiders’ Floyd Stadium or Western’s Smith Stadium.
In 2013, when MTSU joined Conference USA and WKU wasn’t yet a member, they conducted separate, noncompetitive blood drives to keep the blood flowing for Red Cross patients.
Including those single-year totals, MTSU and WKU supporters have collected 9,800 total pints of blood — that’s 1,225 gallons — since 2010.
Because each unit of blood can help up to three different patients, the competition has helped an estimated 29,400 people across Tennessee and parts of Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri.
In effect, MTSU and WKU donors have saved the equivalent of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Its current population is 29,156, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures.
MTSU community donors can save time on Sept. 28, 29 or 30 by completing the required health questionnaire online shortly before they donate with the Red Cross’s “Rapid Pass.”
Blood supplies are critically low nationwide because of drives canceled by both coronavirus and weather. Some chapters have less than a day’s worth of blood available for their area hospitals.
Information on how the Red Cross is protecting donors from COVID-19 exposure, and how those who’ve recovered from the virus can donate their antibody-boosted plasma to help other patients, is available on this web page.
For tips on preparing for a blood donation, visit the Red Cross website.
Campus volunteers can email Wiley for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Gina E. Fann (email@example.com)