BROOKLYN, Mich. – On the five-year anniversary since the tragedies of September 11, 2001, people have not forgotten the pain the United States suffered on that day. As time goes on, Americans continue to rise to the occasion and give back time and energy to support our country.
A man walks around the memorial created to honor the victims of Sept. 11 at Michigan International Speedway.
For the fifth consecutive year, the Spirit of America 500 blood drive at Michigan International Speedway has established itself as an event that has embodied this patriotic spirit through the generous time of donors and volunteers establishing the event as one of the premier blood drives in the country.
The Spirit of America 500 once again proved that people can make a difference as the five-year event grew yet again in 2006. With lofty goals set even higher in 2006, the blood drive surpassed all expectations once again by collecting 789 units of blood in one 12-hour span, bettering last year’s performance of 646 units (collected in 2005).
“Based on all 950 appointments being filled before hand, we were expecting to have record numbers again this year, but this far exceeded our expectations,” said MIS Director of Guest Services Tim Booth, who created the Spirit of America blood drive back in 2002. “I am so pleased by the turnout and would like to personally say thank you to all who donated and volunteered for this wonderful event.”
Many people used unusual ways of transportation to make their appointment time. One gentleman used the services of a helicopter to land at the MIS helipad in order to make his appointment. Nearly 40 high school teenagers from Tecumseh found a way to get time off of school and ride the school bus to the blood drive. A Lenawee County trolley made various stops picking up scheduled donors along the way. Throughout the day, hundreds of people showed up to take part in the Spirit of America 500, many who were regulars and some that were first time donors.
Bob Davis of Adrian, Mich. has been attending the blood drive since its inception in 2002. Now in his fifth year of giving, Davis never feels that the experience loses its luster after time.
“This is exciting for me. This is a great way for me to give back and support the American Red Cross’ efforts,” said Davis. “I participated in this event five years ago and got hooked on it. Now, I come every year and plan on attending next year. In 2002, I brought my best friend and a co-worker out with me and we did it all, even the Richard Petty Driving Experience ride-a-long. I then came by myself for two years, before bringing my wife Kim with me in 2005 and 2006. This is a great experience and I encourage anyone who wants to give blood to come out next year and make this an even greater success in 2007.”
Anyone who gave blood during the race-themed blood drive received a commemorative event credential, shirt, hat and pin, lunch, and a tour of the MIS facilities, along with gifts from various sponsors and an opportunity for a discounted Richard Petty Driving Experience ride-a-long.
After collecting 646 units of blood over a 10-hour period in 2005, blood drive organizers once again raised the stakes by increasing the time of the event by two hours, thus making it a 12-hour blood drive in 2006.
Currently the largest single-day blood drive in the Great Lakes Region, the Spirit of America 500 has collected over 2,778 units of blood, enough to help save the lives of 8,334 people.
Spirit of America Blood Drive Totals
Year Units Collected Potential Lives Saved
2006 789 2,367
2005 646 1,938
2004 535 1,605
2003 433 1,299
2002 375 1,125
Total 2,778 8,334
The Great Lakes Region of the American Red Cross collects blood from volunteer donors in 63 Michigan counties and provides blood products to patients in 70 hospitals statewide. In the past year, the Red Cross has experienced frequent and severe blood shortages. In the past 12 months, supplies have been as low as six hours but rarely higher than two days. The Red Cross considers a three-day supply of all blood types to be safe and adequate for meeting emergency and ongoing medical needs.