Athletic Dept. Teams Up with Red Cross

John Hanacek/Guardian

Athletes and administrators joined forces last Friday, Jan. 15 in the Green Room at RIMAC Arena to donate their blood at the UC San Diego Athletic Department’s 10th annual blood drive.

The event, hosted in conjunction with the American Red Cross, was organized by the Triton Athletes Council — a forum of student-athlete representatives from UCSD’s 23 sports teams — as a part of its community service initiatives.

Senior Associate Athletic Director Ken Grosse collaborated with the TAC. He said the event demonstrates the athletics department’s commitment to excellence on and off the field.

“We’re completely focused on successfully competing on the court and in the field,” Grosse said. “However, equally important to us is success in the community.”

According to Grosse, the blood drive is the largest on campus, and has also been named the No. 1 Southern California University donator by the Red Cross for three consecutive years. This year’s drive yielded 128 usable units — a 13-unit improvement over last year’s.

According to Grosse, approximately two-thirds of donations generally come from student-athletes. Over the course of the afternoon, different teams came in together to make their contributions.

Though nervous about giving blood for the first time, Robert Sedin, a senior center fielder on the UCSD baseball team, said he was happy to contribute to an important cause.

“Every one of us makes a difference” Sedin said. “People everywhere need blood, and when all the athletes get together, it’s really special.”

However, Sedin said he was apprehensive about the procedure.

“I have personally never given blood, and am a little scared,” he said. “The thought of losing blood is creepy — I hope I don’t pass out.”

The blood drive, which was open to the general public, attracted many faculty members and alumni.

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Penny Rue, one of the faculty blood benefactors, spoke nostalgically about her first time at a blood drive.

“The first time I gave blood was as a freshmen in college, because there was an on-campus blood drive,” Rue said. “I have been donating blood ever since”.

Rue stressed that giving blood now will help Red Cross in its earthquake relief efforts in Haiti.

“Right now is especially important for the Red Cross,” she said. “This is a great opportunity for the Athletics Department to foster competition between athletes towards a greater goal.”

Juanita Lake, team supervisor for the Red Cross, shared enthusiasm for the event.

“What a lot of people don’t know is that one in three people is in need of donated blood,” Lake said. “In San Diego, only 3 percent of the population donates blood, so UCSD is definitely doing their part in trying to raise awareness.”

Readers can contact Vishal Natarajan at [email protected].

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