It has been a dozen years, but the memory of nearly 3,000 people perishing in terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania remains vivid for anyone who experienced that traumatic day in person or on television.
On the 12th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia residents will have another opportunity to show the country's resiliency, remember those whose lives were lost, save future lives and honor the nation's military.
Marsh Regional Blood Center is again partnering with Bristol Motor Speedway to hold its eighth annual blood drive to commemorate this anniversary. The event, called the Tri-Cities Patriot Day Blood Drive, will be held Wednesday, Sept. 11, from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. in the parking lot of the speedway's north entrance.
"No one will ever forget what happened 12 years ago, but something positive emerged that day when so many people came to our donor centers to give blood," said Don Campbell, Marsh Regional's director. "That tradition has continued in subsequent years and produced amazing results at last year's drive. We urge everyone in the region to recognize the power of giving the gift of life by donating at this year's event."
The first 100 donors will have a chance to drive on the race track and receive Bristol Motor Speedway gift bags that contain hats, miniature cars, coupons, programs and posters. Donors can also register for a chance to win two tickets for the Tennessee Titans-Indianapolis Colts game on Sunday, Dec. 1, in Indianapolis. Marsh Regional will provide 9/11 memorial T-shirts.
Last year, Marsh Regional collected more than 150 units of blood and set a record for the most units of blood donated in one day. This year's goal is 200 units.
"We are humbled to be able to play a small role in such a worthy cause," said Jerry Caldwell, executive vice president and general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway. "To be able to provide a central location for this is the least we can do. There were many people that day 12 years ago who asked themselves, 'What can I do to help?' They still can help by giving blood."
To donate blood, individuals must be at least 17 years old, weigh 110 pounds or more and be in good health. People with a cold, sore throat, fever, flu or fever blisters or who are taking antibiotics may not donate. Donors should eat a balanced meal before giving blood.
Donors with an O-negative blood type are particularly welcome, as their blood can be used for any patient. For information about this event, please call Marsh Regional at 423-652-0014. For information about scheduling a blood drive at a local business, church, school or community organization, please call 423-224-5888 or visit www.marshblood.com.