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Thursday, 12 September 2013 15:34

Spirit of America blood drive continues to save lives

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- With the generosity and support of more than 500 donors, the Spirit of America Blood Drive at Michigan International Speedway will again save thousands of lives.

The 424 units can potentially save 1,272 lives. (Each unit can be transfused to up to three people.)

The annual blood drive at the racetrack began as a tribute in 2002 in honor of the victims and heroes of 9-11. Since its inception, the Spirit of America blood drive has collected more than 9,300 pints of blood, positively affecting more than 27,960 lives.

"I can't say enough about the countless efforts of donors, volunteers, sponsors, Michigan Blood and MIS employees and the many others who helped make this event a success," MIS Director of Guest Services and Spirit of America founder Tim Booth said. "A special thanks goes out to the blood donors. This drive wouldn't be possible if it weren't for their generosity."

"It is always inspiring to see people donate blood, but today was unique in the 60 year history of Michigan blood -- because people were donating not just to save a life but also to commemorate on very salmon event in the history of our country," Michigan Blood Vice President of Community Relations Jim Childress said. "It was an honor to walk among them. We are also longer to honored to be part of Michigan International Speedway's commemorative activities today. It is something we hope to be part of for many years come."

Among the numerous participants, one family arrived with three generations of donors. Richard, Jayce and Raymond Kussmaul of Clinton, Mich. joined the donors to honor and remember the victims and heroes of 9-11. Richard, who was once in a bad automobile accident and needed blood has been donating since high school and understands the importance of donating. He feels, "we got what we gave."

Tom Kaade from South Bend, Ind. could not pass up a chance to donate blood for something that meant so much to him. Shortly after the events on 9-11, Kaade and his fellow volunteers from the Jonesville, Mich. snow patrol team traveled to New York City. They spent the next several days volunteering with the Salvation Army in any capacity needed.

"FEMA asked how soon we could be there and we said we were packed and ready to go and drove through the night to get there," Kaade said.

The Spirit of America has evolved into more than just a blood drive. It's an event and a time of reflection - all at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich.

This year, MIS has partnered with Michigan Blood, a nonprofit, community service organization founded in 1955, to host the blood drive and Be the Match® Registry drive.

Those who attempted to donate got the opportunity to travel by MIS tram around the track, through the tunnel to the pits, and into MIS's Home of the Brave, a 4,000-square-foot multi-media exhibit featuring "as it happened videos," Presidential letters, magazines and newspapers, and additional tributes.

Donors were also treated to a lunch by CP Federal Credit Union in the Champions Club overlooking the track.

At the conclusion of the tour, donors got an up-close view of more than 3,000 American flags proudly displayed at Unity Field to honor the victims of 9-11. The flags, each representing victims of the 9-11 attacks, are placed in the speedway's Lot 10 by veterans from local American Legion chapters.

PICTURED: The Spirit of America blood drive returned to Michigan International Speedway on Wednesday as guest were able to donate in remembrance of 9-11. (photo credit: Russ Millett)