MTSU's ready to "Bleed Blue, Beat WKU" again Oct. 3-5 to help save lives in the community, and this time the American Red Cross's new technology is making it even easier for the four-time blood-drive competition champs to donate.
MTSU students, faculty, staff, alumni, supporters and neighbors can make an appointment online today to donate blood between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, Oct. 3-5, at the university's Student Health, Wellness and Recreation Center.
Users can type "MTSU19" into the "Find a Blood Drive" box at http://redcrossblood.org or use the new "American Red Cross Blood" app, available at http://ow.ly/S39Ke.
On donation day, MTSU donors can use a desktop or laptop computer to complete the new "Rapid Pass" online health questionnaire at http://www.redcrossblood.org/rapidpass.
The timesaving new website eliminates sitting in line filling out the paper form required of all donors. Each donor will only need to answer the questions on the day of her appointment, then bring a printed or emailed confirmation of the completed questionnaire to show to Red Cross officials. The next step is rolling up your sleeves and relaxing for a few moments while donating blood!
"It's an opportunity for all of us on the MTSU campus to give back to the community at large and to also give back to our own community here on campus," said Ray Wiley, assistant director of campus recreation at MTSU and a 30-year volunteer for the American Red Cross. "It's an opportunity for staff, faculty and students to work together for a common goal."
MTSU students, staffers and supporters have donated 3,232 pints of blood since the annual competition began in 2010 — the equivalent of 404 gallons of blood and nearly 9,700 lives saved in six years' time.
This year's goal is collecting 700 more pints during the three-day drive, and organizers say it's a challenge the university community will meet.
The blood drive is a friendly competition between longtime football rivals MTSU and Western Kentucky University. MTSU has won four of the competitions and conducted its own successful drive in 2013 when Western wasn't yet part of Conference USA.
"When somebody donates blood and they finish and they get off that bed, they're feeling good, because they know that they've saved up to three lives with that pint of blood they've donated," said Patti Wright, donor resources development representative for the Red Cross Tennessee Valley Region Blood Services office in Nashville.
"I think it's a great opportunity to give people a chance to save lives. We don't get a chance to do that very often."
Western Kentucky will conduct its blood drive the following week. The winner will be announced Saturday, Oct. 15, during MTSU's homecoming football game against the Hilltoppers.
Red Cross officials cautioned "Bleed Blue" donors to avoid energy drinks for a few days before their appointments because of new health restrictions on heart rates that could prevent donations. Participants can find other helpful tips to make their blood donations successful at http://ow.ly/AiN07.
Donors who use the new Red Cross Blood app will also be able to schedule appointment reminders, find more blood drives and track their blood donations, organizers said.
Walk-in "Bleed Blue" donors will still be welcome Oct. 3-5, but organizers are encouraging MTSU donors to make appointments now to get the most convenient times and speedier processing on donation day.
For directions to the Rec Center, visit http://www.mtsu.edu/camprec/directions.php. For updates and more information about the blood drive, visit http://www.mtsunews.com/bleed-blue-2016 and follow @MTSUNews on Twitter with the hashtag #BleedBlueMTSU.
A searchable campus map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap. All MTSU community donors will have free reserved parking at the Rec Center.