Bleeding for Blount

Leadership Blount Class of 2011 wants life-saving donations

Leadership Blount 2011 class members Susan Stout, Stephanie Trost, Amanda Womac and Eric Bellah show off their Bleedership Blount T-shirts. The 2011 Class Legacy project will take place on Friday and Saturday, May 6 and 7, at Maryville College and Blount Memorial Hospital.

Photo by Leslie Karnowski

Leadership Blount 2011 class members Susan Stout, Stephanie Trost, Amanda Womac and Eric Bellah show off their Bleedership Blount T-shirts. The 2011 Class Legacy project will take place on Friday and Saturday, May 6 and 7, at Maryville College and Blount Memorial Hospital.

A play on Leadership Blount’s name and the friendly competition between the classes coupled with a daily need in the East Tennessee community has resulted in the Class of 2011’s legacy project. “Bleedership Blount” is a two-day blood drive the first weekend in May for Medic Regional Blood Center, a nonprofit organization.

Vallie Collins, who co-chairs the event committee with Eric Bellah, said the goal is to collect 350 units of blood, which serves Medic’s entire East Tennessee region for one day.

“Our goal is to collect a lot of blood on May 6 and 7,” Collins said. “If you’ve ever had a family member or loved one who needed blood, you really appreciate that.”

Amanda Womac, chair of the Public Relations Committee for the Class of 2011, said that from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 6 and 7 there are going to be two Medic buses at Bartlett Hall on the Maryville College campus. In addition, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 6, Medic personnel will be in the auditorium at Blount Memorial Hospital taking blood donations.

Christy Fightmaster, public relations director for Medic, said the drive isn’t just limited to Leadership Blount alumni. “It is open to the public, and the public is encouraged to come as well,” she said.

Each class of Leadership Blount is required to organize a legacy project that is carried out before the class graduates in mid-May. Bellah said the class came up with some great ideas, but they were too large to complete in time. He threw out the idea of a blood drive, which was more manageable while at the same time filling an important, if undervalued, need in the community.

“Compared to moving mountains, giving blood is not sexy,” he said, but added that his classmates took ownership of the project. “I may have planted the seed, but they’ve watered and nurtured it.”

Collins agreed that the class rallied around the idea of a blood drive and felt like it had a sustainability piece that appealed to them. When volunteering, people are giving something of themselves, and in giving blood, they are giving life, she explained. Many people think about giving blood after a crisis, but the need is always there, Bellah said. Medic told him the blood collection record for a two-day period was after 9/11.

Bellah said this event is a win-win for both Medic and his class.  As the class, which was divided into several committees to work on the project, developed the details, they decided it would be fun to capitalize on every class’s mantra of “best class ever.”

“We decided to turn this into a competition,” he said. “Let’s really prove who is the best class ever.”

The competition will exploit the friendly rivalry as a way to get the classes out to donate. Family and friends can donate on behalf of a particular class, but the public is also encouraged to participate, Fightmaster said.

Womac said the current class members liked the idea of challenging the previous classes. “It is a way to give back even though they haven’t just finished a class and may not have the LB Buzz going on. It is a great opportunity for alumni to continue to give back to the community, and this is a great way to prove if you’re the best class ever,” Womac said.

The competition involves 21 years of alumni so the potential is there for many donations, Collins said. This first weekend in May could become a tradition for a Leadership Blount blood drive.

“That would be a huge win,” Collins said.

This year, the class donating the most blood will be recognized with a “Best Class Ever” trophy. Collins said alumni are invited to an after-event celebration at Courtyard Grille at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, May 7, for the presentation of the trophy.

Katherine Caputo, executive director of Leadership Blount, said this project is appealing because it is based on a collaboration between two of the organization’s partners, Blount Memorial Hospital and Maryville College, LB alumni and Medic.

“I think it’s really a great idea, and it’s a great name,” Caputo said.

Fightmaster said the blood donated stays in East Tennessee. “I encourage people to think about the recipient. They are in much worse shape than you and all you’re having to do is roll up your sleeve and donate,” Fightmaster said. “Focus on what you’re donating and who you are doing it for. It truly is a random act of kindness.”

Fightmaster said eligibility information can be found at The general eligibility requirement is that a person be 17 years of age and weigh 110 pounds. Children accompanied by parents can donate if they are at least 16 years of age and weigh 120 pounds. Children must have parental consent and all donors must have positive identification.

“You never, ever want to donate on an empty stomach,” Fightmaster said. “Make sure you’ve had a meal high in protein and low in fat within two to three hours of donating.”

T-shirts with a Bleedership Blount logo and the tag line, “Real leaders give liters,” will be given to donors. In addition to collecting blood, it’s an opportunity for the class to educate the public both about the importance of donating blood and what Leadership Blount is, Collins said.

“As leaders, one of our roles is to make people aware.”

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