Red Cross Blood Drive Becoming New RiverFest Tradition

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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Saturday, June 1, 2013

One of the newer Wichita River Festival traditions aimed Saturday to channel the festive spirit into providing a lifeline for community members in need.

For the second year, the American Red Cross partnered with Wichita Festivals Inc., to encourage people to donate blood during the Roll Up Your Sleeve For RiverFest Blood Drive. Their goal is to give the local blood supply a boost during the summer months which make up a traditionally slow blood donation period.

"That's because we get about 20 percent of our blood from high school and college blood drives. So, as you can imagine, it's summer time, school is out of session, so it's not as top of the mind and people get busy," American Red Cross Communications Program Manager Cari Merrill said.

To provide an incentive, anyone who donated blood was given the chance to win a one-night stay at the Drury Plaza Hotel so they could have a front row seat to the end-of-the-festival fireworks.

One of the many people rolling up their sleeves Saturday was Garden City's Kayla Drake.

"I really enjoy giving blood," Drake said. "My parents just instilled that within me."

Drake came to town to do the 6.2-mile River Run but decided once she passed the finish line, she'd make a stop at the blood drive.

"It was something else that was on the River Run brochure so I said, 'Hey, might as well do it!'" Drake said.

She didn't show up to donate alone. That's because with the Drake's, giving blood is a family affair. This time, her dad joined in the effort.

"People need blood at certain times so why not give a little?" Harvey Drake said.

Red Cross leaders say their goal for this year's blood drive was to collect 60 pints of blood.

"Each pint of blood collected can help to save up to three patients," Merrill said. "So, if you think about 60 donations today times three, that's a huge impact."

It's an impact Kayla and her family say they're glad to help make during RiverFest.

"I just really hope my donation will give someone life," Kayla Drake said. "Blood is a life 'sustainer.' I just hope it goes to helping others."

If you missed Saturday's blood drive, there is another opportunity to give blood this weekend. You can visit the Andover YMCA Sunday afternoon between Noon and 6 p.m. That blood drive is not associated with RiverFest.

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