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Bolts Support “True Heroes” at Chargers Blood Drive XXXVII
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The Chargers are used to fans calling them their hero.
On Tuesday, they made sure to point out who the real heroes are.
“These people here are for sure,” Melvin Gordon said. “They are the ones saving lives.”
Over 1,200 pints of blood were expected to be donated at Chargers Blood Drive XXXVII at the Town and Country Convention Center. It all began back in 1979 when Rolf Benirschke fell ill on the team’s flight home. The kicker had to undergo multiple surgeries due to complications from ulcerative colitis, and required 80 pints of blood. The Bolts didn’t have enough people in the organization to supply it, so they contacted the San Diego Blood Bank and the very first Chargers Blood Drive was created.
Countless lives have been saved as a result, including Ella Martinez. A bubbly and energetic seven year old, you’d never know that she requires a blood transfusion once every two weeks to survive. Ella has a genetic blood disorder in which she doesn’t produce enough red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout her body. As a result, she must receive transfusions for the rest of her life.
Ella was one of many survivors who stole the hearts of the Chargers, reinforcing the importance of the event.
“It was awesome and one of the best moments of my life,” she said. “Getting to meet the players and have them want to meet me was really cool.”
Manti Te’o was one of many Chargers moved by her story.
“That’s crazy,” he said. “And that is what this day is all about. Helping these kids, and all people in general. The real heroes are the people donating this blood. I’m just here cheering them on, and I’m just glad I can be a part of this. I’m glad the Chargers are a part of this because we understand the difference we can make when it comes to saving lives. The most important thing in the world is saving lives, and when you see everyone benefiting from this, it is more than you can put into words.”
One of those heroes is 17-year old Alyssa Schwantner. Having volunteered at the Blood Drive since she was nine years old, this was the first year she was finally able to donate. Although nervous, she had a certain supporter in her corner.
“I’ve been volunteering for eight years, and I knew I wanted to donate here for the first time. This is a tradition. It was really cool that there was a Charger by my side. This is about donating blood, but it is also a great experience. He was talking me through it and telling me it was all going to be OK. That was really great and made it even better.”
Nearly the entire team came out to support Chargers Blood Drive XXXVII over the course of the day, and here is what a handful of them had to say:
General Manager Tom Telesco: “I think no matter what time of year it is, how you are playing or if it is after a win or a loss, this is a big part of what it means to be a Charger. It’s great to see guys want to be a part of the community. We have guys here on their day off like King Dunlap, who was at the facility this morning rehabbing and now he is here to do this. The blood drive is such a big part of this community. It means a lot to a lot of people, and to be able to help out with it means a lot to us. Our fans cheer for us every week, so it is great for us to be out here for them. I think it is an incredible event. I’ve been in Buffalo, Charlotte, Indianapolis and here, and this event is the biggest I’ve ever seen for a blood drive. This means a lot to the community, so to have this many players take part in it is really special.”
Jason Verrett: “This is my first blood drive because last year I had surgery. This is the first time I’m able to see everyone coming out and enjoying it, and it is amazing. I love the fans and what they are doing here.”
Eric Weddle: “This is one of the best events. We have the power to get people to give back and donate blood. All the lives it saves, and around Thanksgiving time, it’s an amazing event.”
Josh Lambo: “Being able to be a part of such an awesome event is a very humbling experience. To see people come out and support the cause, and get educated about different topics as well such as the genome event they added. People are coming out to save lives, and there is massive value in that.”
John Phillips: “This is awesome to see all the people donating blood. They help people survive. We saw a little girl at our facility recently who needs blood every couple weeks, so it is awesome to see the fans and people of San Diego come out and give blood”
Brandon Flowers: “This event is different than any other event. Sometimes we go talk to kids at schools, and that is important to show them the rights and the wrongs. How to make a better future for them. But this event is saving actual lives. Thousands and thousands of lives. I think this is the best event by far.”
Javontee Herndon: “This is amazing. It is all about saving lives. This is one of the biggest in the country. Personally, I’m scared of needles too so I’m not a fan of giving blood, so I look up to everyone who is donating. I want to thank them all for giving back to save someone’s life.”Read