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Laura Flores tensed up as an American Red Cross worker prepared the 16-year-old Fike student to make a blood donation Thursday.
It was Laura’s first time giving blood and she was nervous about it.
That’s when friend Quay Richardson, another Fike student, stepped forward to hold her hand and give comfort through the procedure.
“We’re going to talk about pre-calculus,” Laura said. “That’s going to take my mind off of it. I’m really glad Quay’s here. He’s really warm and he’s a friend. I don’t feel lonely.”
Laura said she might have fainted without Quay’s support.
“I remember when I first gave and everything,” Quay said. “I was scared and so I feel as though me helping her is a good thing if she needs my hand. This is a blood drive and this is about helping people.”
Laura and Quay were two of the donors who took time out of their day to donate at the Fike High School blood drive Thursday, which still reigns as the largest one-day high school blood drive in the country.
“I think we will be approaching 500 (pints) by the time everybody is processed,” said Bryson Schmidt, a Red Cross coordinator and a Fike graduate. “So that’s 1,500 lives impacted.”
Schmidt said while the goal of 650 pints was not met this year, she is in no way disappointed at the effort.
“We are thrilled to collect this many pints in one day. Whatever we get is more than we had,” Schmidt said. “A huge impact was made today. Either way, it was a success. It’s a huge success for Fike and for the community as a whole.”
Schmidt said the Fike blood drive is so big that it’s equivalent to six blood drives going on simultaneously.
The center of the activity was the gymnasium with the adjacent wrestling room also being reconfigured as a donation center.
“We had people come down from Virginia to help. It’s really a regional event for the Red Cross,” Schmidt said.
It took about 90 Red Cross workers in two shifts to pull off the blood drive, along with the nearly 30 volunteer students and faculty members helping lead the donors between stations.
Shirley Pitt came out to donate again because she knows it will help save someone’s life.
“It’s easier than giving money,” Pitt said. “I do it every year. They said I have given over five gallons.”
Donovan Sanders, a 17-year-old junior, was giving for the first time.
“I like helping in any way I can,” Donavan said. “At 17, I’m not the richest person in the world, but this is something I can do.”
Korey Ballard of the American Red Cross Norfolk (Virginia) collections division took Donovan’s blood.
“He’s already a professional. He’s a Power Red. He gave double the amount of red blood cells,” Ballard said of Donovan.
Fike student Chibby Uwakwe was another Power Red donor.
“Last year I got a card with the name of the person I helped, so I felt good about that,” Chibby said.
Fike High School Principal Randy St. Clair said he was proud of his students and the faculty for their efforts.
“It shows a compassion and a heart and just a vision they have for Wilson County just to support lives and help out the best way they can,” St. Clair said.
St. Clair thanked community members who came out to donate.
“We appreciate it. It is for a greater good,” St. Clair said. “There are so many people who need it and we are just so appreciative of them.”
Wilson County Schools Superintendent Lane Mills said the blood donated Thursday is vitally important for the folks who need it.
“When it’s your turn to need it, these people who have done this for you is why you should pay it back,” Mills said. “The students do an amazing job and the staff. Paying it forward is what this is about. You never know what’s going to happen and it’s good karma.”
Wilson Mayor Bruce Rose was among the donors Thursday.
“I give blood because it is saves lives,” Rose said. “There is a shortage of blood in this country. It is so important to give blood. I congratulate these students at Fike. This has always been a great program here.”
“We have had an awesome turnout,” Schmidt said. “The chairs have been full and that’s what we want to see. Things have gone really smooth. A lot of businesses in the community have come out and supported us, so we are very thankful.”