By KIM LOCCISANO
Times Leader Staff Writer
For the past six years at about this same time, Sentinel Motorcycle Club member Butch Tanner and a group of his fellow bikers have been very public about the fact that they are out for blood from their fellow bikers and from the general public as well - particularly if you happen to be in generally good health, have an hour to spare tomorrow, Monday, July 8 between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., and can anti-up a unit of blood suitable for donation to the collection total of the annual "Bikers Want your Blood" blood drive.
Bikes line the parking lot at last year’s “Bikers Want Your Blood”?blood drive at WesBanco Arena. The 6th annual blood drive will take place Monday, July 8.
Tanner was the original founder of this blood drive project six years ago. He makes sure to donate blood himself to the American Red Cross on a regular basis. That effort will see him mark a very special personal accomplishment before the end of the day Monday.
Tanner's donation on Monday will push his personal total shared to a staggering 19 gallons.
It's his way of helping someone else - someone who needs the potentially life saving blood products made available through public collections such as "Bikers want Your Blood."
If you plan to donate:
- All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients.
- A blood donor card or driver's license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in.
- Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states including West Virginia), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood.
- High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
- If you have questions about the blood donation process before the blood drive, you are welcome to call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or go to redcrossblood.org to make an appointment for the blood drive or for another time if necessary.
The number of lives his individual blood donations have directly touched in a positive way is hard to imagine, but it is certainly the kind of thing a person should be proud of doing.
What happened six years ago that moved him to start this humanitarian effort in the first place? His normally enjoyable ride home over a familiar rural road was violently interrupted when a deer and the motorcycle Tanner was riding collided.
It quickly proved to be a life-altering experience for Tanner, his family and friends, and it continues to have a positive impact on the lives of untold numbers of people as the collision gave rise to the annual "Bikers Want Your Blood" blood drive.
Tanner's injuries from the collision were numerous, and some serious, but they did not result in his having to receive care involving blood products.
Things could easily have turned out very differently for the experienced biker - a reality he needed no help in grasping then or in appreciating even six years later.
The blood drive was begun by Tanner with the support of his fellow Sentinels.
It did not take long for the annual event to outgrow not only its original site in a local church basement, but several other locations as well, until it finally found a permanent home large enough to easily house the constantly increasing donor turnout: the WesBanco Arena - something that has become part of this annual donor event's treasured traditions.
Several years ago, the local chapter of the Warthogs Motorcycle Club, led by President Dick Flanagan, began their wholehearted support of the blood drive started by Tanner with the help of his fellow Sentinels.
The Warthogs Motorcycle Club membership is drawn from the ranks of law enforcement and fire fighters.
Tanner and Flanagan both believe strongly in the importance of this blood drive and the potentially lifesaving works that can be accomplished with the generous donations of blood, and also of those who are able to support it in other ways, such as by volunteering or through financial means, such as agreeing to be event sponsors.
"We get a lot of bikers who come to donate, but the support we get from the general public is really important too," shared Tanner.
It is not always convenient for a person to donate blood at this particular event, but their help is still very much welcomed by the American Red Cross organizers coordinating the event.
Organizers welcome volunteers who are willing to help with the wide variety of jobs needing done, such as helping fill out paperwork, walking a person to the cantina area, and things like that, explained Tanner.
If you are able to donate that small amount of time and a potentially lifesaving unit of blood, then you can count on being welcomed into the blood drive effort going on Monday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. that has become the second largest annual donation effort seen in this area - second only to the annual media Blood Donor Day.
At last year's event, the total number of units collected was 333, according to Tanner.
"We're going for a goal of 350 units this time," he offered. "But it would be great to collect 400 units this time."
The annual "Bikers Want Your Blood" blood drive has found a permanent home at WesBanco Arena, with collection details coordinated by and through the personnel and resources made available through the Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region.
For several years now, the two unique motorcycle clubs' diverse membership ranks have been pulling together in a unified effort to see donor numbers continue to climb each year, while they increase awareness of the need for the donation of blood, particularly throughout the summer, as donor numbers often fall off substantially during this time of the year but the demand for blood and blood products only increases.
But Red Cross organizers are quick to give credit for the on-going and always growing nature of the annual blood drive to a generous public and to the bonds enjoyed by members of several local chapters of regional and national motorcycle clubs: the Sentinels and the Warthogs, and now the Elm Grove Eagle Riders.
"It's great to see a new sponsor," said Tanner of the interest shown in the blood drive's continued success by the Eagle's sponsoring of the event.
Tanner and Flanagan were also pleased that the annual blood drive would now have the additional formal support of a third motorcycle club.
The thing both men are most proud of when it comes to the annual "Bikers Want Your Blood" blood drive is quite simply stepping up to help others by giving away - donating - something as painless to share and as vitally important to healing and to life saving efforts as is a unit of a person's blood.
As a way to thank donors they will receive a special "Bikers Want Your Blood" t-shirt (while supplies last) and special refreshments donated by area merchants. Music will be provided throughout the day Soul Bridge.
At this popular event there will be door prizes, fuel cards and similar items awarded every 30 minutes, said Tanner.
Donors of all blood types - especially O negative, A negative and B negative - need to give blood to help avert a summer shortage. 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.
As part of the Red Cross Summer of Stories campaign to increase donations when they historically drop, all presenting donors at Red Cross blood drives across the country from Monday, July 1, through Monday, July 15, could win one of five $3,000 American Express gift cards. Donors are also encouraged to visit redcrossblood.org/summer to share their summer blood donation stories and watch videos of patients whose lives were touched by donors.
Sponsors of the "6th annual Bikers want Your Blood" blood drive include: Bellaire Warthogs Motorcycle Club; Sentinels Motorcycle Club; Elm Grove Eagle Riders #1891; Ziegenfelder; DeFelice Bros. Pizza, Bethlehem; Morning Wood Firewood; Chirp's Auto Body; Bill's Towing; Stone Bridge Bar; Gold, Khourey & Turak; Gordie Longshaw; Jebbia's Market; Marshall County Co-op; RHR Contracting; Creative Learning Daycare; Happy Feet Soccer; Matt's Tiger Pub; Gulla's Hot Dogs; Marnie's Touch Massage; Bellaire Hardware; Scooter's Place; IBOE Local Union 141 Wheeling; BP Subway Bellaire; Coleman's Fish Market; Muxie Distributing; World Gym; and Gulla's Next Door.
Loccisano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org