By Nicholas Lopez
A volunteer at the Immune Deficiency Foundation, Joanna Tierno was born without a whole immune system.
She receives weekly blood infusions to have an immune system, relying on donors to keep her alive.
Her smile electrified the grand room of Gotham Hall on Tuesday as she walked around in a navy blue dress, long brown hair flowing. She observed many donors relaxing on beach chairs and extending an arm to the needles and tubes that were her liefelines.
The New York/New Jersey Super Host Committee, a grooup formed to excite people about Super Bowl XLVIII at the Meadowlands next year, teamed with the American Red Cross and New York Blood Center to host a “Super Community Blood Drive,” at the Chelsea location.
“I think it’s awesome to just see all the donors coming out to donate blood,” said Tierno. “Being a recipient, everything that I get to do in my life is only because of the donors, you know, every anniversary, all the volunteer work that I get to do, everything that I get to do is because of the donors.”
The drive was part of a campaign to raise awareness of blood donations for local patients with traumatic injuries, illnesses and surgeries.
The organization “is very committed to making sure the Super Bowl leaves a legacy for the region and not only will it be a great football game for the fans and an economic boost, but it really serves to make a difference for our community,” said Doug Mehan, Director of Grassroots Community Development.
Prospective donors also entered into a sweepstakes to win two tickets to next year’s Super Bowl.
“We wanted to make sure that there was an extra incentive provided to try and get people to really think hard about blood donations,” said Mehan.
The campaign, which encompasses New Jersey and the five boroughs of New York City as well as Westchester, Rockland, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, began back in May and runs through January.
“Most people don’t think about giving blood until someone that they know needs it and they don’t realize that there’s a constant need for blood 365 days a year, so partnering with the Super Bowl Host Committee gives us a name recognition,” said Andrea Cefarelli, Executive Director of Donor Recruitment at the New York Blood Center.
For some donors overcame their fear of needles to give back to the community.
“I’m not a big needle fan, “ said Luis Figueroa, “so I put that fear to the side knowing that I’m doing it for a bigger cause. I’m doing it just because it’s something, you know, past myself and saving a life,.”
“A lot of friends of mine actually, when I talk to them air jordan 5 about donating, when they actually see that needle, they’re not thinking straight, because when you panic, you’re actually not thinking straight, that’s when they chicken out or they pass out,” said David Hernandez who has donated five or six times. “You just have to think about the positive that you’re doing and not on the negative. If you do focus on the negative, that’s when you do chicken out.”
“Every two seconds, somebody is going to need blood,” said Tierno, “and right now, about two percent of our population donates,. We need about one percent more to donate to end shortages.
The blood drive is all about giving back to the community and after the initial first pinch, it’s not so bad after all.
“Most first-time donors will tell you they can’t believe how easy it is,” said Cefarelli. “We think nothing of piercing our ears or getting a tattoo and giving blood is a tiny little bit of discomfort, but it gets the good feeling of saving a life.”