Life Member Kicks Off "Border Bash" Blood Drive
“When I saw this, I wanted to take part in it. It’s something I am able to do, and I’m glad to do it.”
Those are the words of Carolina alumnus Howard Hughes, ’82, a captain with the Richland County Sherriff’s Department (pictured at right), who was the first in line to give blood at Monday’s "Border Bash" blood drive for Aimee Copeland, daughter of alumnus Andy Copeland, '83. Donors arrived early to roll up their sleeves and give the gift of life on Monday, June 11, in the Greek Village on the Columbia campus.
Aimee’s story has made national headlines after she contracted a rare flesh-decaying bacteria following a fall from a zip line, which resulted in the loss of a leg, both hands and her other foot. Aimee is a 24-year-old graduate student, an alumna of the University of Georgia.
Hughes was donating his 71st pint of blood during his lifetime, which equates to nearly nine gallons.
“I like to give whenever I can,” Hughes says. “I have two daughters close to her age, so I can empathize with her family.”
Hughes was one of many to donate throughout the day, as the blood drive was scheduled from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Andy Copeland (pictured at left, addressing the crowd) drove up from Augusta and attended the event to express his appreciation. He is the one who appealed to My Carolina and the University of Georgia Alumni Association to mobilize the two alumni bases in support of his daughter and anyone else who needs blood.
Copeland noted that Aimee is beating the odds and continues to improve. She has received more than 300 units of blood during her ongoing hospital stay in Augusta.
“She is just amazingly resilient,” Andy says of daughter Aimee. “Her ability to say, ‘Let’s do this’ when faced with one of the most difficult decisions you can be faced with, and have her hands amputated without blinking an eye... I think we’re proving today just how great the Gamecock nation is. Life transcends sports, and this a chance for us to show who we really are as Gamecocks. We’re lovers of life and compassionate people who want to give life to others.”
85 pints of blood were collected at the on-campus site on Monday, with additional donations coming from other blood donation centers in Aimee's name.
"The donors, students, and My Carolina Alumni Association made this a very special day," says Reggie Belcher, who is the Board Chair for South Carolina Blood Services of the American Red Cross. "Every unit of blood collected is a win for the entire community. Our hopes and prayers remain with Aimee Copeland and her family, as Aimee continues to progress and heal."