Nearly 2,500 people could have a second chance at life thanks to this year’s friendly “blood battle” between Middle Tennessee State University and longtime rival, Western Kentucky University.
A total of 905 units were collected during the annual 100 Miles of Hope Red Cross Blood Drive, held the three days prior to the Sept. 27 football game between the MTSU Blue Raiders and WKU Hilltoppers.
“What an amazing turnout for the 100 Miles of Hope Blood Drive,” said Ray Wiley, MTSU True Blue Blood Drive committee chairman. “We want to say a special thank you to everyone who gave blood or volunteered to help work during the drive.”
For the first time in seven years, WKU won the competition and took home the coveted challenge trophy by a razor-thin margin. And MTSU surpassed its goal of at least 400 units.
“We collected 451 units of blood and WKU garnered 454 units, thereby winning by three units — the closest in the history of the blood drive,” Wiley said.
The donations “will significantly help replenish some of our shortages and low inventory,” said Gene Baker, senior recruitment manager for Donor Services at the American Red Cross.
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 now claimed victory for the third time. There was no competition in 2013, when MTSU joined Conference USA, nor in 2020 or 2021 because of the pandemic.
The 2023 blood drive at MTSU brought the university’s total donations to 6,551 units of True Blue blood since 2010, potentially saving 19,653 neighbors’ lives across the region. With the 2023 competition complete, MTSU and WKU supporters together have given a combined 12,107 units of blood since 2010, potentially helping over 36,000 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.
This year’s drive also supported the fight against sickle cell disease. Sickle cell disease is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders, chiefly among the Black population, that affect hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen through the body.
Blood drive honors dedicated staff volunteer
The competition was bittersweet this year for the MTSU community.
The 2023 100 Miles of Hope Red Cross Blood Drive was held in honor of the late Gina Fann, who passed away in August at age 60 after an extended illness.
An MTSU alumna, Fann was a member of the News and Media Relations team and served her alma mater as a communications specialist since 2004 and served many years on the university’s Blood Drive Committee leading promotion efforts before and after each year’s campaign.
“Gina was very dedicated to helping others and she demonstrated this by helping MTSU and the American Red Cross by serving as a valuable team member of the blood drive committee, of which she served since the inception of the drive in 2010,” Wiley said.
The end of this year’s drive doesn’t end the need for blood, as a national blood shortage continues for all blood types. For more information on donating blood anytime, visit https://redcrossblood.org.
— Nancy DeGennaro (Nancy.DeGennaro@mtsu.edu)