By Johnny Jackson
For the fourth year in a row, the American Red Cross is teaming up with The NASCAR Foundation to conduct a blood and marrow drive at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton.
Organizers plan to host The NASCAR Foundation Blood and Marrow Drive on Sept. 30 from 10 a.m., to 7 p.m., in the Atlanta Motor Speedway infield media center.
This year, the foundation said it will use more than 30 tracks across the country in a campaign to collect as much blood as possible to help meet the daily demand for more than 38,000 blood donations, and the needs of 6,000 people seeking a marrow match.
The nationwide campaign grew from a single blood drive at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich., said Sarah Newnan, spokeswoman for The NASCAR Foundation.
Newnan said the speedway started its own "Spirit of America" blood drive in 2002 in response to the Sept. 11 attacks, and "we used that as a model."
She said the blood-drive campaign has grown in the past four years to include 33 tracks nationwide.
"It's been a great opportunity for them to engage with the fans and make a difference in their local communities," Newnan said. "We encourage all of our fans to come out and give blood."
She said fans in metro Atlanta donated 248 units of blood last year, and so far this year, the national campaign has collected 4,861 units of blood.
"To date, we've been able to potentially save 35,000 lives through the collections of this drive," Newnan continued.
According to the American Red Cross, 1,200 blood donations are needed each day to meet the needs of patients at some 130 hospitals in its Southern Blood Services Region, which includes metro Atlanta.
The American Red Cross has a goal of collecting 350 pints of blood at the drive this year, according to April Phillips, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross.
"There's a constant need for blood," said Phillips, adding that there are various opportunities throughout the year to donate.
"This is one of the largest blood drives that we put on throughout the entire region," she said. "Every unit of blood could help save up to three lives. So, truly, you could be helping numerous patients in hospitals throughout our community."
Blood and marrow drive organizers said participating donors will receive a commemorative T-shirt and a free pace car ride around Atlanta Motor Speedway's 1.54-mile track.
Donors will also be entered into raffles for a chance to win a Richard Petty Driving Experience session, and for a chance to win two tickets and pre-race pit passes to the entire 2010 Kobalt Tools 500 NASCAR race weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway, according to organizers.
Blood donors must be 17 years of age, or older, and weigh at least 110 pounds. To make an appointment, call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (448-3543) or visit the Red Cross Blood or NASCAR Foundation web sites. For information about marrow, call the National Marrow Donor Program at 1-800-MARROW2 or visit the program's web site.
On the net:
Red Cross Blood:
NASCAR Foundation: http://foundation.nascar.com
National Marrow Donor Program: www.marrow.org