This year’s 19th annual Battle of the Orange and Blue blood drive kicked off with a bang Monday after Tennessee pulled away with the early lead over the Kentucky Wildcats.
Over the past 18 years, Kentucky has won the competition nine times, while Tennessee has only won eight, making this year’s competition a great opportunity for Vol fans to tie up the score.
“I am pleased with the turnout today, but Monday is typically a difficult day for us,” said Christi Fightmaster, public relations coordinator for the Medic Regional Blood Center. “In the past we have lost this competition because of a low turnout on Monday and Tuesday, and we end up trying to play catch up with Kentucky, and we never quite get there.”
However, this year Tennessee fans made a strong showing with 582 donations, while Kentucky fans only turned out 517 donations.
“Unfortunately only 150 of the near 600 donations were from campus, the rest were from the community, so we are really hoping that students make the time to donate throughout the rest of the week,” Fightmaster said.
The goal for this year’s competition is to collect at least 3,000 donations. It is a goal that Fightmaster believes to be attainable provided that students and the community show strong support and active participation.
Last year UT supporters contributed nearly 2,800 donations, an impressive total against Kentucky’s 2,500 donations.
For students who may feel apprehensive about donating, veteran donors say the process is practically painless and well worth the time.
“It’s not scary by any means, and they are really gentle,” Keaton Williams, junior in journalism and electronic media, said. “Plus everyone is really nice and accommodating, they really take care of you.”
Needle-shy students are also encouraged to donate.
“Honestly it really doesn’t hurt, the needle is only in your arm for about five to seven minutes and once it’s in, you almost forget it’s there,” Williams said.
Fightmaster urges students to realize the impact that one donation can make, not only in the competition but in someone else’s life.
“When you weigh the pros and cons of giving blood, I think the pros certainly outweigh the cons,” Fightmaster said. “I don’t know what else you can do that takes less than an hour and has such a significant impact on the community, since one donation can help save three lives.”
Medic Blood will be collecting donations at the University Center for the rest of the week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in suites 225-227. Smaller donation centers will also be available to students at Hess, Clement and South Carrick Halls.