SIDNEY — Donors had to make tough choices when they voted for their favorite public safety and emergency healthcare teams at the Wilson Health “Heroes Behind the Badge Blood Drive” Tuesday, Aug. 23, in Sidney, but in the end it was simple. Every vote was ultimately dedicated to patients like David, a local teenager surviving lymphoma, or Anna, a little toddler battling cancer.
The “Heroes” challenge started as a way to recruit donors to a new blood drive at the Wilson Health Professional Building that would come at a time when many donors in the regular rotation of Community Blood Center blood drives might not be eligible.
The competition was spirited and transparent. CBC’s Kathy Pleiman set out plastic ballot boxes that made it easy to see how each team was doing in the voting. Sidney Police claimed bragging rights and the championship plaque with 38 donor votes, followed by the Sidney Fire Department with 29, Healthcare with 22, and EMS with 18.
The blood drive totaled 132 registrations, including 105 donations and 20 first-time donors for 117 percent of the collection goal.
“I’m voting healthcare,” said Wilson Health lab worker June Brunswick, a 56-time donor, as she placed her ticket in the ballot box, “but I’m also an EMT with the Osgood squad!”
Police Sgt. David Godwin cast his ballot for his department after donating.
“It’s something I’d like to do more, but I can’t when I’m on duty,” he said. “But I’m on vacation this week so it worked out perfect.”
“We pick on each other, it’s a fun rivalry,” said Sidney Firefighter Doug Stammen. “It doesn’t matter who wins. The people who get the blood are the real winners.” He nodded toward his son David and added, “People like him.”
David was a sophomore at Houston High School last December when he was diagnosed with Anaplastic large-cell lymphoma.
“It was not good,” said Stammen. “They told us get our affairs in order.”
David turned 16 in the hospital.
“My first round of chemotherapy was at the beginning of January, the day after my birthday,” he said.
The Houston community rallied around him with fundraisers, including a 5K race that raised $18,000. David completed treatment in May and is cancer free.
Stammen made his first lifetime donation at Tuesday’s blood drive, and David was there for support.
“He received blood and platelets several times,” said Stammen. “It’s my chance to give back.”
Robin Eisert works in cardiopulmonary services at Wilson Health and made her first blood donation Tuesday. It was a way to support her 21-month-old granddaughter Anna who was a year old when she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, one of the most common childhood cancers.
“She’s had tons of transfusions” said Eisert. “My daughter-in-law has been asking people to donate.” Anna has undergone chemotherapy and radiation treatment, surgery to remove tumors, and a stem cell transplant. But photos of Anna’s happy face give Eisert hope.
“It’s a privilege to support blood donations,” said Wilson Health Chief Operating Officer Greg Long, who made his milestone 20th donation at Tuesday’s blood drive. “It’s important. Blood is a vital resource in the service we provide to our patients. Being able to help make sure people have the resources they need is important to us as caregivers.”
Learn more at www.GivingBlood.org.