If the local Missouri/Illinois chapter of the American Red Cross was to keep up with the need for blood in the 80 area hospitals it serves, it would need to provide an astonishing 800 units of blood per day.
Considering those astronomical numbers creating a severe need for blood to help patients all over the area, the Rams and the Red Cross have developed a long standing relationship that does all it can to help out in any way possible.
That’s why the Rams and the Red Cross once again teamed up on Tuesday for the 13th annual Rams/Red Cross blood drive at The Heights in Richmond Heights.
“The need is constant everywhere,” Dan Fox, Communications Manager for the Red Cross, said. “So you could understand why a partnership between the Red Cross and the Rams is so important because the Rams help bring in more donors to our blood drives. The end result is that it could help more people.”
Indeed, for the great majority of the Rams’ time in St. Louis, the annual blood drive held in conjunction with the Red Cross has been one of the most important events on the calendar.
The goal for Tuesday’s blood drive was to reach 152 units by 7 p.m., a number that was surpassed with a total of 205 pints.
For Rams defensive end
“There are always going to be accidents and emergencies that pop up and just knowing that what takes 10 minutes for you, it could save somebody’s life,” Long said. “That’s something that is unbelievable.”
Starting back in the magical 1999 season, the drive has continued to find ways to expand and grow.
This year’s event added a little something different to help integrate more of a football atmosphere into the day’s proceedings. The aforementioned presence of a washers game was all part of the idea to create a blood drive “tailgate.”
The tailgate provided free food, t-shirts, games, prize giveaways including tickets to an upcoming game and the opportunity to meet Long, a few cheerleaders and Rampage.
“This is the 13th consecutive year that we have done the Rams blood drive and every year it gets bigger and better,” Fox said. “This year we decided if we are going to partner with a great football franchise, we have to have a real great football theme. So we incorporated the tailgate with them this year, which is something we haven’t done in years past. We want to give our donors and our visitors maybe not a game time atmosphere but as close to one as we can give them so we’ve got free food and the games at the tailgate but then we’ve also got the main sell inside which is the blood drive.”
Throughout the existence of the relationship between the Rams and the Red Cross, the two parties have worked to find ways to increase exposure for the event and make it something of a tradition on the St. Louis community calendar.
Having the Rams take part in the process by having celebrity appearances and other involvement allows the Red Cross to be more visible and highlight the ever-expanding need for blood donations in the area.
“The feedback is phenomenal,” Fox said. “People want to do good, they want to help out their community and I think sometimes they have a little bit of trepidation or fear about donating blood but when we are able to partner with an organization like the Rams and people are able to see the Rams logo on it and know the Rams are partnered with the Red Cross, it brings them out. It’s fun to see how many people come out wearing their Rams gear. We’ve got people wearing Rams shirts and jerseys. They are excited not only to donate blood and do a good thing but they are also excited for the opportunity to meet players, get cool t-shirts and possibly win some prizes.”
The on-going relationship between the two sides has helped raise awareness for blood donations in the city and contributed to higher numbers of units available. According to Fox, the annual Rams-sponsored blood drive has provided more than 1,000 pints of blood since its inception 13 years ago.
Later this month, the Red Cross will also have more blood drives in different locations for those that couldn’t make it out on Tuesday.
Regardless of the final tally, there’s no doubt that the work done by the Rams, the Red Cross and their volunteers has helped save countless lives in the past dozen-plus years.
And while the fans will turn out to meet their football idols, it’s the contributors themselves that are the real heroes.
“We have to have that partnership,” Stephen Gates, the Red Cross’ Recruitment Manager, said. “It’s the Rams supporting the Red Cross, the Red Cross supporting the patients and so on and so forth but it all goes back to the fans and the donors that are coming out.”