Riley County Police Dept. wins 17th annual Battle of the Badges blood drive

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The Riley County Police Department took the top prize in the 17th annual Battle of the Badges blood drive.

The American Red Cross blood drive, which took place at St. Thomas More Catholic Church this year, gives people the opportunity to donate blood while also voting for a local emergency-services department.

With 97 votes, RCPD beat out the Manhattan Fire Department, which came in second place with 67 votes, and Riley County Emergency Medical Services, which came in a close third place with 64 votes.

The friendly competition was originally created to bring in donations during a time of year when blood donations are hard to come by.

Greg Hudec, a Battle of the Badges blood donor who voted for the Riley County Police Department, chose this particular blood drive specifically because of the competition.

“I always try to make this one more than any just because I like to support our emergency workers and our cops and our EMS (workers),” Hudec said. “It’s one of my favorite ones just because I respect those people and appreciate what they do for the community and for the country.”

The Battle of the Badges has brought in hundreds of pints in blood donations every summer since it began nearly two decades ago and 2020, despite the ongoing COVID-19, did not look any different.

The blood drive brought in 282 pints in blood donations this year, surpassing the goal of 281 pints.

These donations will go on to save the lives of up to 598 people.

The two-day drive, which began Monday and ended Tuesday, started a little slow but finished strong.

“Monday we had a really good turnout and a lot of people came out to donate,” Kristi Ingalls, account manager for the American Red Cross, said. “We did come just a little shy of goal but we were able to make that up on the second day.”

159 pints were donated on Monday, just short of the goal of 163 pints, while Tuesday’s goal of 119 was surpassed with a daily-donation total of 124 pints.

This year’s Battle of the Badges looked a little different than it has in the past.

In past drives, emergency-department employees would be on location attempting to persuade donors to vote for their respective department. However, due to COVID-19 concerns, this year’s drive largely consisted of donors and American Red Cross workers.

Donors also wore masks, got their temperature taken, practiced social distancing and will eventually have access to results for a COVID-19 antibody test. These test results will be accessible through donor profiles published on redcrossblood.org or the American Red Cross Donor App.

Despite all these changes, donors still received free t-shirts and the satisfaction of knowing their donation could potentially save someone’s life.

“I guess its a great gift to give back to the community and to the people in the United States that need blood and I’ve got extra blood.” Hudec said. “I’m health and I enjoy giving back to the community.”

To find out more about future blood drives, visit redcrossblood.org.

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