Bikers’ blood-drive efforts pay dividends

WHEELING It’s said getting people to come out to donate blood is more difficult in the summertime.

It’s even more difficult to get people to come out during a weekday.

And yet, despite this, the annual “Bikers Want Your Blood” blood drive is a rousing success.

“We’ve received pretty good support, not just from bikers, but from the community at large,” said Butch Tanner of the Sentinels and the one who organized the original event.

That year, it was held the the First United Methodist Church in Bellaire.

The following year, it was moved to the Ohio Valley Mall. After that, the drive moved to its new home at WesBanco Arena, where it will be held Monday, July 8 from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.

“Our goal is 350 units,” Tanner said. “We’d like to get over 400 and last year, we had 333.”

It’s the Ohio Valley’s second largest donor turnout, next to the Media Blood Donor Day.

Tanner and the Sentinels originated the blood drive, but as it grew, the Warthogs, a club consisting of law enforcement officers and firemen, volunteered to help out.

“It had gotten so big that the Sentinels asked if we could give them a hand,” said Dick Flanagan, chapter president of the Warthogs.

Donors of all blood types – especially O negative, A negative and B negative – need to give blood to help avert a summer shortage. Unfortunately, patients don’t get a summer holiday or vacation from needing blood. The need is constant.

Those who come to donate will also have the opportunity to enter to win great prizes donated by area businesses. In addition, blood donors may park at no charge in the parking garage; individuals will need to bring their parking stub in to the blood drive to be validated.

The gift of blood is precious and can help save countless lives. And to do so only requires around an hour of your time.

“It’s so easy to do. The longest part actually is filling out the paperwork,” Flanagan said. “You’re only giving up about an hour of your day and the donation part takes about 10 minutes, if that.

“It’s a challenge. There are a lot of tough guys out there. If you think you’re tough, come down and give some blood.”

A double-red donation, which is also being taken at this drive, does take a little longer. But overall, you can do a great service to the community, gets some free snacks and meet some other service-minded people, all in about an hour.

Those coming to the drive will receive “Bikers Want Your Blood” t-shirts while supplies last. They will also be treated to refreshments provided by area merchants and music will be played by Soul Bridge.

Tanner noted that biker turnout is large from both the Sentinels and the Warthogs. Other area clubs and chapters participate as well.

“Obviously, we’d always like to have more bikers get involved, but we do get great participation. A lot of guys show up,” Tanner said.

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