MU Homecoming blood drive honors tradition, collects 3,640 units of blood

While maybe not as festive as other traditions, the blood drive holds significance to the community and beyond.

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It’s Homecoming season, and the Mizzou Alumni Association’s Steering Committee is back this year to uphold Mizzou’s long-standing tradition of hosting one of the biggest blood drives in the world. Lasting from Oct. 9-12 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m every day, the drive was open to MU students, faculty and staff, along with members of Columbia and surrounding areas.

Over the course of those four days, 3,640 total units of blood were donated, which is equivalent to 10,920 total lives saved.

With donating stations set up across the court and check-in tables lining the perimeter of the Hearnes Center, the drive was surely hectic but in an organized fashion.

“It was a controlled chaos,” Steering Committee member Grace Corley said. “It’s been a smooth operation thanks to the volunteers and the other student groups who were involved.”

In preparation for this event, Corley and her fellow committee members made sure to get help from as many different groups as possible, whether that be contacting local business to set up raffles and coupons, encouraging students in Greek life to get involved or setting up weekly meetings with the American Red Cross.

“It’s really cool to see so many organizations come together to support one great cause,” Corley said. “It’s a cool, unifying factor and you’re essentially saving people’s lives.”

While blood drives aren’t something people would typically associate with the word “homecoming,” Mizzou’s annual blood drive has cemented itself as a 32-year tradition for a much more meaningful reason. It may not be black and gold cheering sections at football games or decorative floats at a parade, but this tradition could literally mean life or death for people close to home.

One of those people is former MU basketball coach Brad Loos. The second day of the drive was named Rally for Rhyan in dedication of Loos’ daughter who had battled pediatric cancer. Microphone in hand, Loos emphasized the importance of donating blood and how it can positively impact lives, including his daughter’s.

In light of the Las Vegas shooting last week, Corley and other donors recognize that the need for blood also reaches beyond Columbia. While typical homecoming events place greater emphasis on the “home” aspect, this blood drive’s greater purpose serves to help anyone in need, no matter how far away they are.

“There are tragedies happening everywhere by the day,” freshman Emma McNail said. “It’s such a good deed and it’s so easy to do, especially for someone like me who is perfectly healthy.”

McNail had heard about the drive through her sorority, when her sisters encouraged her to donate in exchange for more points in the Homecoming competition. Despite the point incentive, McNail insists that she “has so much blood, [she] can give a pint here or there.”

In addition to donating blood, McNail signed up to volunteer at the drive on Thursday, when she made name tags for donors at one of the check-in booths.

“Everyone was so nice and welcoming,” McNail said. “It was cool to see how many people were there and how positive the atmosphere was.”

Contrary to what many first-time donors would expect, the vibe at the drive was not nerve wracking or anxious at all. According to Corley, everyone seemed to be pretty happy and left on a positive note.

“We hope to see as many potential donors come through the doors as we did this year,” Corley said. “We want to collect blood from as many willing people and hopefully make an impact.”

Edited by Claire Colby | ccolby@themaneater.com

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