Donor competition shows rivalry more than skin deep

By Austin Schmitt

As tension rises before UK’s football game against the University of Louisville this weekend, students are out for blood — literally.

While Cats’ fans are hoping for another victory on the field, some are working to secure a win in a different battle against the Cardinals. The Battle of the Bluegrass Blood Donor Challenge is an annual competition between the two universities.

Last year 9,095 UK students donated blood for the challenge, 4,600 more donors than U of L, but the numbers are much closer this year, said Pam Dobbins of the Kentucky Blood Center. As of Tuesday, UK held the lead over U of L with 6,577 donors to 4,575.

“UK won by a landslide last year, but it’s a close battle this year,” Dobbins said.

The last day of the blood drive competition, which began Aug. 4, is Thursday. Students can donate at the UK Medical Center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Around the blood drive site, donors may hope for a second consecutive victory over Louisville, but some students echoed the “everybody wins” sentiment.

Joe Brey, a UK junior, said he is a regular blood donor and only became aware of the competition when he arrived to donate. Even though he was going to give blood anyway, he said the battle was a definite incentive.

The rivalry between the two schools is something the Blood Center is grateful for, Dobbs said, since it gets thousands of students to come out every year.

“This is something UK and U of L do each year. It really brings in a lot of donors for the center,” she said.

Brian McMillan, a UK senior, said he donates as often as he can, and wants students to know that giving blood is not painful like some may think.

“It is what you make of it. You can go in two ways — scared or ready to help someone out,” he said. “After the initial anticipation, it is a relaxing experience.”

Free T-shirts are provided to each participant, and the chance to beat a rival school is always a plus, Brey said., but the real incentive is helping those who need blood.

“It benefits others and it’s not much pain,” Brey said.