By Johnny Jackson
Officials with the American Red Cross hope to get a last "draw" from area blood donors, before the summer officially begins.
The organization is planning to host its fourth annual, late spring blood drive on May 25, at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. The event is one of three the Red Cross hosts at the speedway each year. The blood drive will take place, from 2 p.m., until 7 p.m., in Atlanta Motor Speedway's Tara Ballroom, near the main entrance to the raceway, at 1500 Tara Place in Hampton.
Part of the blood drive's focus is to get more people involved in donating blood regularly, according to April Phillips, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross Southern Blood Services Region.
"This is right before summer kicks off," Phillips said. "And traditionally, blood donations decline during the summer months [also known as critical months]."
A large percentage of donations throughout the year stem from students at high schools and colleges throughout the region. She said donation centers tend to see declines during breaks, particularly over the summer, when school is out of session and families are taking vacations.
"[However,] the need for blood is constant," Phillips said. "It never takes a break."
Many people are affected directly, or indirectly, by the blood donations, either as donors, patients, or through their loved ones, said Terrill Cooper, donor recruitment representative for the American Red Cross Southern Region.
Cooper said the upcoming blood drive could help preserve as many as 270 lives.
"We have a goal to collect 90 units of blood this blood drive," Cooper said. "Each unit has the potential to save up to three lives."
Cooper said donors can safely donate whole blood every 56 days. Platelets can be given safely every two weeks, for up to 24 times a year. To give blood, an individual must be 17 years old, or older, weigh at least 110 pounds, show a valid photo I.D., and not have donated whole blood within the last 56 days.
The Speedway also plans to facilitate blood drives for the Red Cross on Sept. 21, from 9 a.m., until 7 p.m., and during the week of Dec. 20, Cooper added.
Donors are encouraged to schedule an appointment online at www.redcrossblood.org, and use sponsor code "AtlantaSpeedway," or call (770) 852-4125. Contact Cooper, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.