When Charity Harrington and the National Honor Society high school students at Odyssey Preparatory Academy participated in Vitalant’s High School Blood Drive Challenge and organized blood drive events on their campus, they didn’t expect to receive anything in return other than knowing they helped change the lives of those in need of blood donations.
So, when Harrington, Odyssey Preparatory Academy’s NHS advisor, was notified that her school earned the “Gold Award” in the blood drive challenge, she was overjoyed.
“We didn’t do it to be a part of a challenge. We did it because they wanted to do it, and the students are really passionate about it,” Harrington said.
Odyssey Preparatory Academy is only one of the 15 schools in the West Valley that participated and competed against schools with a similar number of seniors to earn achievement awards based on percentage participation.
Sue Thew, Vitalant’s media and public relations person, said — through a partnership with the Arizona Diamondbacks — schools that reach gold or higher award levels receive tickets to a baseball game to celebrate their accomplishments.
“We are so pleased to be able to partner with the Diamondbacks on this program, the high school blood drive challenge, because not only are teens our largest donor group — which has a huge impact on hospitals — but it’s an opportunity for the students to learn leadership skills while they’re organizing their blood drives,” Thew said.
And Thew said the blood given by the 15 high schools in the West Valley from June 1, 2018, through May 31 will save more than 2,380 lives.
“That’s a huge accomplishment for a group to make. Imagine how many people are benefiting not only the patients, but their family members that are grateful that those patients are alive,” she said.
Sedona Bartee, president of the NHS chapter at Odyssey Preparatory Academy, said she’s proud that her school and club, together, contributed to saving lives.
“I’m really happy to see that the NHS could make an impact like that. These blood drives get our entire school — upperclassmen 16 and older — connected to help our community,” she said.
And Bartee said the partnership between Diamondbacks and Vitalant will create an even greater outreach.
“I think it’s great that something as big as the Diamondbacks — a ton of people go to their games — is bringing awareness to donating blood. Members of the audience (will say), ‘Oh, donate blood? I can do that,’” Bartee said.
Odyssey Preparatory Academy senior Ian Hoffman said he enjoys donating because he knows his blood will be used on someone who desperately needs it.
“It’s not so much for the recognition. It’s great to be recognized for that and receive a gold award. But, what I see as a reward is, honestly, helping people. I think if more people could get to the gold level then the better,” Hoffman said.
And Hoffman encourages everyone to donate.
“It’s 15 minutes of your time. You feel a little woozy afterwards, (but) it’s nothing compared to the satisfaction of knowing that you did an awesome thing,” he said.
Odyssey Preparatory Academy NHS members will attend the Championship Banner Night Diamondbacks game on May 9, where the eight division-winning schools that participated in the challenge will be recognized on the field during pre-game ceremonies.
To learn more about donating blood at Vitalant — previously known as United Blood Services — visit bloodhero.com or call 877-25-VITAL.