BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Doug Elkins and his wife Sharon of Harrison, MI left their house yesterday like any other typical race day at MIS, but this time there was no Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett, or Sam Hornish Jr. to cheer around the historic 2-mile oval.
The Spirit of America 400, the largest single-day blood drive in the State of Michigan, was met with sunny skies and enthusiasm from beginning to end. "It was such a great team effort, we'd like to thank the dozens of volunteers along with the Red Cross and MIS Staff, a lot of people pitched in to make this a special day, " said MIS Guest Services Manager Tim Booth. "Blood drives of this size at high‑visibility places like MIS are a great help to the Red Cross," said Fred Sterns, CEO of the Great Lakes Blood Region. "They allow us to reach more people with the message of how critical it is to give blood year‑round. Plus, like all our blood drives, it's great to get a lot of people working together towards a common cause."
Donors were treated to free lunch, hat, and pin courtesy of Americrown. Country Fresh served free ice cream and Coleman and Flagstar Bank and gave gifts to all donors. Kodak also gave cameras to all donors to capture the excitement of the day. "We heard about it during the June race here, we both love racing and wanted to donate blood, so figured we would make a day of it," said Elkins. When asked about what it meant for him to donate blood on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks, Elkins equated the experience to the Billy Ray Cyrus song 'Some gave all'. "Some people gave more than others following 9-11, I wasn't able to give all, but I gave what I could."
A highlight of the day for donors was a chance to ride in a 2-seater stock car ride around MIS's 2-mile oval. For $75, many donors took advantage of a chance to take the ride around MIS, with proceeds going to Red Cross. Debbie Ahrens of Tecumseh, MI, was one of 136 donors to take advantage of the ride and couldn't wait to jump into a stock car. "As soon as we arrived, you could hear them going around the track, it feels good to pitch in, the best way to honor 9-11 is to help other people, but at the same time, it will be a lot of fun," said Ahrens. "Unbelievable, breathtaking, ride of your life, said Dan Parks, Event Director for Country Fresh Dairy when asked what he thought of riding around the MIS oval. "This is just a fantastic event, everything is always done right at MIS. Country Fresh works with different blood centers around the state, but I'd have to say this is the premier event for blood drives," added Parks.
The numbers are in:
Ø 375 successful pints of blood were taken from donors
Ø For every pint of blood taken, 3 lives could be saved. That means 1,112 lives could have possibly been saved from the Spirit of America 400
Ø 160 people added to the national bone marrow registry by My Friends Care
Ø 136 stock car ride-a-longs were given
First-timers: There were 92 first time donors for the Spirit of America 400. Normally, less than 10% of the donors are giving blood for the first time, during the Spirit of America 400, the number was near 25%. " We had a significant number of first time donors, actually we had 92 of them. It's a huge number when your talking about people that we're now getting involved in the blood donation process, we hope they will continue and donate again in the future, " said Jessica Hanna, Director of Marketing and Business Development for the Great Lakes Blood Region.