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MTSU supporters create big community win from ‘Ble...

MTSU supporters create big community win from ‘Bleed Blue, Beat WKU’ rivalry

The rivalry returned, and now 831 blood donors around Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and Bowling Green, Kentucky, are back in their daily routines with their superhero capes barely visible.

The Fall Blood Drive Competition trophy is once again at home at MTSU after the university's supporters donated 603 pints of whole blood Oct. 29-31 to win the competition with Western Kentucky for the sixth time since 2010. (MTSU file photo by News and Media Relations)
This challenge trophy will remain with MTSU after supporters donated 480 units of blood to rival Western Kentucky University’s 351 to win the annual blood-dive competition for the eighth time — and fourth consecutive — in 13 years. The blood drive challenge trophy was presented Oct. 15 during MTSU’s homecoming football game against Western at Floyd Stadium. (MTSU file photo)

Meanwhile, the recipients of their lifesaving blood, plasma and platelets — as many as 2,493 across the two states and around the country — are driving their cars, feeding their children, talking in their workplaces, and recuperating in their hospital beds, or soon will be, back in their own daily routines.

The friendly blood-drive rivalry between football foes Middle Tennessee State University and Western Kentucky University, which began in 2010, resumed this fall after the pandemic and scheduling issues waylaid Western in 2020 and 2021.

MTSU won the 2022 competition with its supporters donating 480 units of blood in an Oct. 3-5 “Bleed Blue, Beat WKU” campus blood drive. The WKU community collected 351 units of blood for its neighbors in a Sept. 26-28 drive.  

The challenge trophy was presented Oct. 15 at Floyd Stadium during MTSU’s homecoming game against Western.

“As students at MTSU, we’re constantly reminded of our True Blue Pledge … that being ‘True Blue’ means we are recipients and givers. We take being ‘True Blue’ and being the Blue Raiders to heart, and it shows in our actions,” said Michai Mosby of Memphis, a sophomore public relations major at MTSU and chief of staff for the university’s Student Government Association.  

“In our meetings, when I was talking about the blood drive, we had a senator who gave their personal story — she has needed blood transfusions, her sister has needed blood transfusions, and they have a rare blood type, and it’s through blood drives that they’re able to get the blood they need. That motivated other students to say, ‘OK, we see. We’ll help.’

Michai Mosby of Memphis. a sophomore public relations major and 2022-23 chief of staff for the university’s Student Government Association.  
Michai Mosby

“It was one thing for me to say, ‘Hey y’all, we need your help with the blood drive,’ and it was another thing for everyone to actually hear how it benefits (the recipients), how it actually works. That human interest played a big part.”

The 586 prospective blood donors who joined MTSU’ s three-day drive included students, faculty, staff, alumni and community neighbors. Of the 480 who successfully gave blood at MTSU, the American Red Cross Tennessee Region reported that 312, or 65%, were first-time donors.

Ray Wiley, associate director, Campus Recreation
Ray Wiley

“Wow! What an amazing turnout for this event! We are so grateful to everyone who took their time to volunteer at the drive or rolled up their sleeve and gave lifesaving blood to others!” said blood drive committee chairman Ray Wiley, MTSU Campus Recreation associate director and a longtime American Red Cross volunteer and blood donor.

“This is a wonderful example of servant leadership and demonstrates how much we care for others. We can’t thank them enough! People have become more aware of how important giving blood is and how much they personally are truly needed to save lives. If they can’t donate, they volunteer to help the other donors.  

“They really make a difference for us every year at this drive, and we’re honored that they choose MTSU’s drive to give.” 

13 years of giving = 33K lives affected

The annual blood drive, launched in 2010 by MTSU Director of Athletics and longtime blood donor Chris Massaro, has continued through both conference bye years and the pandemic.  

The winner earns a challenge trophy, presented at each year’s MTSU-WKU game. MTSU has now won the contest, and trophy, eight times, with 2022 marking the fourth consecutive win; Western has won twice. There was no competition in 2013, when MTSU joined Conference USA, nor in 2020 or 2021.

Ray Wiley, center left, associate director of MTSU Campus Recreation, accepts the American Red Cross’ “WKU vs MTSU Fall Blood Drive Competition” challenge trophy on behalf of the university from Gene Baker, senior account manager for donor resources at the Red Cross Nashville offices, on Jones Field at MTSU’s Floyd Stadium Oct. 15 during the MTSU-Western Kentucky football game after MTSU supporters donated 480 units of blood to WKU’s 351 to win the competition for the eighth time in 13 years. Looking on are WKU Athletic Director Todd Stewart, left, and MTSU Director of Athletics Chris Massaro, right. MTSU has now won the contest, and trophy, for the fourth consecutive time; Western supporters have won twice. There was no competition in 2013, when MTSU joined Conference USA, nor in 2020 or 2021. (MTSU photo by Matt Posey/MT Athletic Communications)
MTSU junior Lydia Suggs, left, a nutrition and wellness major from Greenbrier, Tenn., chuckles while American Red Cross phlebotomist Jada Douglas helps her prepare to donate blood Oct. 3 at MTSU’s “Bleed Blue, Beat WKU” blood drive in the Student Health, Wellness and Recreation Center. MTSU and Western Kentucky University renewed their blood-drive rivalry this fall after a two-year hiatus, and Suggs and other MTSU supporters donated 480 units of blood to WKU’s 351 to win the competition for an eighth time in 13 years. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

The 2022 “Bleed Blue, Beat WKU” drive at MTSU brought the university’s total donations to 6,100 units of True Blue blood since 2010, potentially saving 18,300 neighbors’ lives — more than the population of Goodlettsville, Tennessee —across the region.

With the 2022 competition complete, MTSU and WKU supporters together have given a combined 11,202 units of blood since 2010, potentially helping 33,606 patients.

The Red Cross says up to three patients can use the components from one unit of blood. An average 150- to 180-pound adult has about 10 units, or 1.5 gallons, of blood; a newborn’s body has about one cup.  

For more information on donating blood anytime, visit https://redcrossblood.org.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

Ron Henderson, center, chair of MTSU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, talks with student volunteers distributing snacks and drinks to blood donors like him Oct. 3 at MTSU’s “Bleed Blue, Beat WKU” blood drive in the Student Health, Wellness and Recreation Center. MTSU and Western Kentucky University renewed their blood-drive rivalry this fall after a two-year hiatus, and Henderson and other MTSU supporters donated 480 units of blood to WKU’s 351 to win the competition for an eighth time in 13 years. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)
This overhead view of the first day of Middle Tennessee State University’s “Bleed Blue, Beat WKU” blood drive in the Student Health, Wellness and Recreation Center Oct. 3 shows campus donors, volunteers and American Red Cross staffers at every point of a busy blood collection, from check-in and information updates to giving blood to relaxing with a snack after donating. MTSU and Western Kentucky University renewed their blood-drive rivalry this fall after a two-year hiatus, and MTSU supporters donated 480 units of blood to WKU’s 351 to win the competition for an eighth time in 13 years. The blood drive challenge trophy was presented Saturday, Oct. 15, during MTSU’s homecoming football game against Western at Floyd Stadium. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)
Diane Turnham, MT Athletics associate athletic director/senior women’s administrator, laughs with American Red Cross phlebotomist Tyler Skipworth as she prepares to donate blood Oct. 3 at MTSU’s “Bleed Blue, Beat WKU” blood drive in the Student Health, Wellness and Recreation Center. MTSU and Western Kentucky University renewed their blood-drive rivalry this fall after a two-year hiatus, and Turnham, a member of the drive’s planning committee, and other MTSU supporters donated 480 units of blood to WKU’s 351 to win the competition for an eighth time in 13 years. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

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