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AMS to host Red Cross blood drive

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) is teaming up with the American Red Cross to help save lives.

The race track will host the sixth annual Drive for Life Blood Drive, Tuesday, from 9 a.m., to 7 p.m.

Tracye Bryant is the communications manager for the American Red Cross' Southern Blood Services Region, which covers Georgia, north Florida, parts of North Carolina, South Carolina and Alabama. Bryant said the blood drive will continue a "partnership" with AMS, which has been a "great success" since it began.

"It helps us to engage NASCAR and race fans, to get on board and become fans of the Red Cross as well," she said.

The effort comes at a crucial time, according to Bryant. "We are currently on appeal for all blood types," she said. "Typically, we experience a shortage during the summer months, due to donors being on vacation, and high schools and colleges not being back in session." She said more than 20 percent of Red Cross blood drives are conducted at high schools and colleges. Such drives have been on the decline in recent months.

Bryant added that last year's blood drive at AMS, generated nearly 300 pints'of blood donations. She hopes her organization will collect 350 during this year's event, and will allow the Red Cross to better serve more than 120 hospitals in Georgia.

"One pint can help save up to three lives," she said. "With [a good] showing of donors, we have an opportunity to impact, in a positive way, the needs of patients throughout the state of Georgia."

Marcy Scott, director of marketing and promotion for AMS, said the Drive for Life event is one of the most successful drives conducted by the Red Cross each year. She added that the NASCAR Foundation formerly operated a national initiative, to host blood and marrow drives for the Red Cross, at race tracks across the country.

"Even though it is not an initiative for the NASCAR Foundation, we are continuing to carry it on because there is such support from the community," she said.

Participants in the blood drive will receive several items in appreciation of their donations, according to Sheena Vicente, marketing and promotion coordinator for AMS.

Those items include a commemorative T-shirt, a Pace Car ride around the speedway, a free round of golf at participating Robert Trent Jones courses, and a ticket package for the Labor Day 2011 race at AMS.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, visit www.redcrossblood.org, and enter sponsor code "atlantaspeedway," or call 1-800-733-2767.