Donating blood is one of those things I always meant to do because I understood its importance. I just never got around to it until it meant something to me personally. In the year prior to her death, my mother needed blood transfusions often. Though my blood type and my location could not help my mom directly, someone else was doing this for her. I owed it to them to pass on that life giving opportunity. It took this kick in my apathy to make donating blood a regular part of my schedule (around tattoo appointments). So when I found out that a blood drive is part of the SDCC schedule, I booked myself an appointment.
The Robert E. Heinlein Blood Drive carries on a tradition set by the science fiction author who accepted an invitation to attend SDCC only if those requesting autographs had donated blood. The organizers of the convention could grok the importance of the cause and decided to do one better by offering a blood drive at the event itself. Forty years later, the blood drive continues to remind convention goers of who the real heroes are as it welcomes upwards of a thousand donors per day who offer up their plasma for those in need–which is even greater this year in the United States due to the zika virus outbreak.
If the goodness of your heart isn’t enough motivation to get you over to the Manchester Grand Hyatt to register, then there’s always the swag! In previous years, the drive has been sponsored by True Blood, but now that the series is over, Marvel has stepped up to the plate. Captain America and his iconic shield greet you on t-shirts and signs inviting you to save lives by donating blood. Donors (even those who do not pass the screening for various health reasons) are entitled to a Captain America t-shirt, free music downloads, and a chance to win exhibitor donated prizes. And of course there’s the endless gratitude of the staff and volunteers who tirelessly run this event. San Diego Blood Bank employee Tracie has been getting away from the office for what she considers a weekend staycation where she can enjoy the people watching while welcoming new and existing donors to the fold. Charles regularly donates through the Red Cross, but as a fellow geek, he loves the idea of the convention-based blood drive, which he’s been participating in for four years. The awesome free stuff is just a bonus for him, while a young first-time donor was just happy to have the chance to donate after missing out on her high school’s blood drive.
Rumour has it that Marvel stars might even drop by the say hello and even offer up some of their own precious plasma. If you’re in the neighbourhood and have a pint to spare, be sure to drop by!