Feb. 26, 2010
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — For 13 days throughout the fall, the University of Iowa football team relies on thousands of fans to breathe life into their performance. The Hawkeyes returned the favor Friday, donating enough blood to benefit nearly 200 people.
“It’s for a great cause, first of all,” said UI freshman Brett Van Sloten, an offensive lineman. “This is nothing new. I gave blood twice in high school and when this opportunity arose, I took advantage of it. There has been a pretty good turnout. The guys know it’s for a good cause.”
This is the second year in a row that the DeGowin Blood Center has held its drive in the player’s auditorium of the Hayden Fry Football Complex.
“It’s pretty special because we get to meet the football players, but it’s also special for them because they get to give back to the community,” said Kitty Miller, clinical technician for DeGowen. “From what we hear, the players look forward to these community-service sorts of things.”
Miller said that each donor’s blood will be divided into several “products” which will assist two to four people. At least 40 Hawkeye players or staff signed up to donate Friday.
“We don’t force anybody to do this, it’s all on their own free will,” said Chigozie Ejiasi, director of player development for the UI football program. “Last year was pretty successful and it’s nice that we have it set up right in the complex. That makes it easier for the guys.”
The blood drive went from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. If there were scheduling conflicts with class, the Hawkeye players go to the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics and contribute there.
Donating time and resources is common place for the Hawkeye football program. Since the summer of 2008, there have been more than 40 volunteer opportunities for the UI football student-athletes, who in turn have contributed approximately 2,000 community service hours. Some of the more recent efforts by the Hawkeyes have been assisting with the annual dance marathon and visiting patients at the VA hospital.
For Ejiasi, who coordinates the volunteer opportunities, he practices what he preaches.
“I’m going to give blood today; I’m OK with needles,” Ejiasi said. “I don’t get too queasy. I can motivate myself and I’ll get in there and give some blood.”