Through one community event, thousands of lives were saved on Tuesday.
The 15th annual Drive for Life — a partnership between the Broncos and Bonfils Blood Center — was held at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, and dozens of Broncos players, alumni and cheerleaders headed to the stadium to show their support.
“It’s definitely not your typical blood drive,” said Bonfils Public Relations Specialist Dianna Hemphill. “It’s a once-a-year opportunity for us. You can tell by today’s crowd, people are just pumped to come out here, donate and then go meet the Broncos.”
The timing of the event — held annually in October — corresponds with the upcoming winter months.
Hemphill said people often find it harder to donate during the holidays, as they get busier during that time of year.
Being able to collect so much blood in October helps prepare for the more difficult months ahead.
Cornerback Champ Bailey makes it a priority to attend the event every year.
“First of all, we have all these fans trying to give back to the community,” he said. “What example am I if I don’t show up to things like this? A lot of kids do look up to us. When you show up to things like this, it kind of inspires them in a way.”
The players, alumni and cheerleaders signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans that donated blood.
Running back Willis McGahee said he was happy to see such a large turnout, both from the Broncos and fans throughout the community.
“It’s always a good thing to see that when you know it’s going to benefit people in the long run and help save lives,” McGahee said. “We’re just here to show support.”
Nearly 1,500 people showed up for last year’s Drive for Life, and Hemphill said that at the rate donations piled up in the morning, she would be surprised if this year’s drive didn’t surpass that.
Since each donation can save or enhance up to three lives, that means nearly 5,000 lives were affected on Tuesday.
“I think people understand the importance of it,” Bailey said. “I just want to come be a part of it.”
Since 1998, the Drive for Life has grown into the largest single-day blood drive in the history of Colorado, and one of the largest in the nation.
“It’s our signature event, and we’re so happy to be celebrating our 15th year partnering with the Denver Broncos, because they really do know how to put on a good event,” Hemphill said. “It’s so unique. We’re just honored that Bonfils can be a part of it.”