UI football team donates blood to save lives

Feb. 27, 2009

UI Football Blood Drive Photo Gallery | UI Football Blood Drive Video

IOWA CITY, Iowa — One of the many community service projects carried out by the University of Iowa football program is much more than feel-good volunteer work. This one saves lives.

Approximately 40 Hawkeye players, coaches and staff participated in a DeGowin Blood Center blood drive Friday, Feb. 27, inside the Hayden Fry Football Complex player’s auditorium.

“When we get a chance to help out, we’re going to try to do that any way we can,” said Chigozie Ejiasi, UI director of player development. “Our guys do a good job getting involved in the community and getting out and trying to help the Iowa City area.”

Forty-four members of the Hawkeye football family were registered to donate blood, and a few walk-ons were welcomed and expected. Each person contributes one unit, which is the equivalent of nearly a pint, of blood. The UI football blood drive was scheduled from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. — an hour more than normal drives, according to Erin Marzen, blood drive coordinator.

“This is a big help for us,” Marzen said. “We really rely on our community drives for a lot of blood we collect for the University Hospitals, so to have a sponsor group like this on campus is great. These are 40 people we probably wouldn’t have seen without this blood drive.”

Christian Ballard, a sophomore defensive tackle from Lawrence, Kan., became a donor for the first time Friday.

“It went pretty well, I wanted to do this,” Ballard said. “I thought it would be nice especially since this will go to the hospital, which is a great place. I’ll pitch in wherever I can to help.”

The UI football program completes a community service project every week to 14 days. It’s a win-win situation for the Hawkeyes, according to Ejiasi.

“We try to get our guys to help out in the community, they learn a lot from that,” Ejiasi said. “Our players do a good job of volunteering.”

UI senior offensive lineman Dace Richardson realizes that the Hawkeye football players are in the limelight and he hopes by volunteering, that will motivate others to act.

“I’m just trying to help out and get other people to see what we’re doing,” said Richardson, who also donates plasma. “I know if I needed blood I would hope someone would donate it for me. The satisfaction I get is if someone sees me donating and then they decide to because of me. I hope people see us doing this and will decide to donate blood.”

This is the third time in the past two years that the UI football team has participated in a blood drive. The most recent was during the summer of 2008 following floods that devastated Johnson County and the entire state.

Iowa begins spring football practice Wednesday, March 25, with the season-opener Saturday, Sept. 5, against Northern Iowa inside Kinnick Stadium.