This year’s 19th annual Battle of the Orange and Blue blood drive is a big deal for Vol fans who are finally looking to even the score with the University of Kentucky Wildcats.
During the 18-year history of the contest, Kentucky fans have won nine times, while Vol fans have only won eight times. The two sides tied once in 1991.
Christi Fightmaster, public relations and marketing coordinator for the Medic Regional Blood Center, stressed the importance of a Volunteer victory for this year’s battle.
“We have won the last three years, but our goal this year is to really settle the score going into the (19th) year. We definitely need a victory in order to put us back on an even playing field with Kentucky.”
Medic Regional Blood Center is the area’s only blood collector and supplier for all eight Knox County hospitals as well as 28 surrounding area hospitals. The blood drive was created to ward off shortages that typically happen during the holiday and flu seasons.
“Donations drop drastically right after Thanksgiving because people become so busy with holiday planning, and cold and flu season really starts to pick up, so people don’t come in to donate as often,” Fightmaster said. “This one event keeps both of our blood banks off emergency appeal during the entire holiday season.”
Last year, UT supporters contributed 2,762 pints of orange blood while Wildcat followers gave 2,646 pints of Kentucky blue blood — a small difference of only 116 donations.
“Our goal this year is to collect at least 3,000 donations, which I believe is definitely attainable with strong student and community support,” Fightmaster said.
“We are extremely interested to bring new donors into the system,” said Jerry Rysticken, executive director of the Medic Regional Blood Center. “Throughout this contest, we see a lot of mighty fine young people who are willing to make a donation, and it means a lot to us.”
The entire donation process only takes about forty-five minutes, and several donation centers will be set up across campus throughout the week of Nov. 13-17.
“The whole process is very simple … and we can’t stress enough how sterile and safe it is,” Fightmaster said. “Students do have to go through a mini-physical and a screening interview first, which is what takes the most time, but the actual needle is only in your arm for about five to seven minutes tops.”
In order to make a donation, students must present photo identification, be at least 17 years of age and weigh at least 110 pounds. Those who give blood will be given a free T-shirt along with a coupon for a free pint of Baskin-Robbins ice cream.