Louisville Donorama is here!
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – 1978. The year that 36-year-old, Louisville-native Muhammad Ali redeemed himself in a heavyweight title rematch against St-Louis native Leon Spinks. The thoroughbred, Affirmed, ran to triple-crown majesty. Jogging suits were the fashion rage and the movie "Grease" was setting box-office records.
In Louisville, 1978 also signaled the beginning of a local partnership with the owners of the Executive West Hotel and the American Red Cross to help meet the needs of thousands of Louisville-area hospital patients needing someone else's life saving blood.
The "Louisville Donorama" is one of the nation's oldest and largest annual blood donation events. With the generous, 30-year sponsorship of the hotel owners, the event has grown from a 200 pints per day blood drive to a highly anticipated, nearly 1,000 pints per day, community-wide extravaganza.
"When we moved it to the hotel, that's when it really took off," said Tony Linville, a retired Red Cross nurse who directed the medical staff at the first Donorama and until her retirement in 1999. "The Donorama wasn't anyone's brainchild. It came out of the donor recruitment department. Donations were slow during the winter and I think we all realized that something had to be done."
"It was just 200 pints a day and that made a big difference then. But what was so lovely about the event was that it was done by volunteers – all volunteers," added Linville.
To mark that achievement and its rare long-time sponsorship, many of Louisville's major hospital chief executive officers will hold a rare press conference where they will thank the hotel's owners for their long-time sponsorship in donating their expansive space for the annual Donorama event.
The press conference will be December 29, 2008 at 11 a.m. in the ballroom at the Executive West Hotel, 830 Phillips Lane, Louisville, Ky.
The 2008 Louisville Donorama is December 29 to 30 from Noon to 7 p.m. each day at the hotel.
Adding to the celebration of this milestone anniversary are several major Louisville-area businesses which have donated gifts and prizes to mark the 30th anniversary: all presenting donors will be offered a 30-year commerative ink pen donated by LG&E; an Italian dinner donated by Kroger and a pork dinner donated by the Swift Meat Co.
On display will be donated poinsettias from the Kountry Korner Nursery. All presenting donors will be offered an array of desserts from "The Bakery" at Sullivan University.
All presenting donors will also be automatically entered into drawings for several donated items from the Louisville Slugger Museum, the University of Louisville and UPS.
The Kentucky "Donate Life" coalition will have representatives on hand to speak with blood donors about signing onto the state's donor registry which benefits those needing organ and eyeglass donations.
Long-time volunteer Vivian Reverman said she remembers that through the years the hotel held the event regardless of winter weather challenges. "I remember firemen were out in the parking to helping people get out of their cars to get into the hotel because of the ice.
"People are willing to wait two hours to donate. Some people will only donate at the Donorama. Lots of people wait all year just to donate at the Donorama. It's just always such an exciting event."
How to Donate Blood
Simply call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (1-800-448-3543) or visit givebloodgivelife.org. for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver's license, or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Eligible donors must be at least 17 years old, or 16 years old with a signed Red Cross parental/guardian consent form where state permits, must weigh at least 110 pounds and be in general good health.
About the American Red Cross
Governed by volunteers and supported by giving individuals and communities, the American Red Cross is the single largest supplier of blood products to hospitals throughout the United States. While local hospital needs are always met first, the Red Cross also helps ensure no patient goes without blood no matter where or when they need it. In addition to providing nearly half of the nation's blood supply, the Red Cross provides relief to victims of disaster, trains millions in lifesaving skills, serves as a communication link between U.S. military members and their families, and assists victims of international disasters or conflicts.