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During the summer, donating blood will help Hawaii’s Special Olympics athletes

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 4:52 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Blood Bank of Hawaii faces a shortage every summer when blood donations drop by 15 to 18%.

It comes at a crucial time.

“Blood donations go down and transfusions go up, so that gap gets a lot bigger,” said Todd Lewis, Blood Bank of Hawaii COO.

“We need to come up with creative ways to bring more donors out, or I need to go to the mainland to find blood, what we call an import.”

To attract more donors, the Blood Bank and Special Olympics Hawaii are teaming up on a joint campaign called “Be a Sport, Donate Blood.”

Beginning June 1, blood donations will trigger monetary contributions from the Blood Bank to Special Olympics.

The non-profit is getting ready to re-start training and competitions for its more than 3,500 developmentally challenged athletes.

“What that’s going to enable us to do is to get the PPE that we need, to get the sports equipment that we need, to help us with organizational supplies for some of the competitions, and things like that,” said Special Olympics Hawaii CEO Dan Epstein.

June is the most difficult month for collecting blood donations. It’s also the start of hurricane season in Hawaii, when one catastrophic event could wipe up blood supply.

“Our goal here in the state of Hawaii is between the hospital’s inventory and our inventory, we want to keep seven days total of red cell blood supply on the shelves at all times,” Lewis said.

When the pandemic hit, the Special Olympics pivoted to virtual exercise classes to keep its athletes engaged. At the same time, the non-profit lost key fundraising opportunities, so the joint campaign is really important.

“We are really ramping up now, so that we can get our athletes back in person,” Epstein said.

The “Be a Sport, Donate Blood” drive runs from June through August.

“Our donors are going to be fired up that they’re saving a life. And through their donation it’s going to support us to be able to make a financial contribution to Special Olympics of Hawaii, to help them with their re-opening,” Lewis said.

To learn more about the campaign, go to BBH.org.

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