By MATT MASTERS
The 6th annual Battle of the Badges Blood Drive kicked off on Wednesday a the John P. Holt Brentwood Library.
By 2 p.m. over 100 donors had stopped by the library to donate blood or platelets, all of which will be used to save the lives of those in need.
Brentwood Fire and Rescue’s Deputy Fire Chief David Windrow was at the drive all day and said that this was a way for first responders to be more involved in the community and to give back the ultimate gift — life.
Windrow said that the drive started with collecting 76 units or pints of blood in 2014 and last year they saw a total donation of 274 units.
“We’re going for 300 this year because 300 units will save 900 lives, so that’s impact,” Windrow said.
The annual blood drive is a national competition between first responder groups to ensure that blood supplies keep pace with demand during the holidays, when supplies are most scarce.
The Brentwood Police Department and Brentwood Fire and Rescue Department are facing off against the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office.
For Windrow this is also an event with a personal significance as he received blood transfusions after battling a cancer diagnosis.
“This is something that we started six years ago. I was a cancer patient and I survived and [Brentwood Police Department Assistant Police] Chief Walsh, my co-chair, was shot a few years ago in a bank robbery in a bank robbery in Brentwood, so we’ve both been blood recipants,” Windrow said. “Nashville already had a Battle of the Badges that goes on at Nissan Stadium, so we wanted to start one in Brentwood.”
Donations will also help people like three-year-old Lennon Kimsey of Brentwood who has been battling leukemia since January and is the honoree of this year’s blood drive.
Kimsey wants to be a police officer when he grows up, a dream that the Brentwood Police Department has embraced, even presenting him with his own Brentwood police uniform that he will wear during the blood drive.
“People who donate blood are lifesavers,” Lennon’s mother Kelly Kimsey said in a news release. “He would not be able to complete the chemo treatment without blood transfusions.”
In addition to helping save lives and supporting local first responders, those who give blood at the Battle of the Badges will receive a Red Cross T-shirt and refreshments.
While the blood drive is a competition between first responders, anyone eligible to donate blood is encouraged to do so.
The drive will continue on Thursday, Aug. 22, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“The blood supply always gets critically low at the end of summer. A lot of people don’t realize that the number one source for blood is high school blood drives. Well, schools are just now starting back and so they haven’t had a drive to address those critical shortages,” Windrow said. “The next critical shortage will be during the holidays when schools are out and people are busy and people forget to give, so we try to bolster the blood supply early here in August to carry us through the rest of the fall because somebody needs blood every few minutes.”
Participants will also be eligible for a free giveaway of prizes such as tickets to games for the Tennessee Titans, Nashville Predators, University of Tennessee and Vanderbilt University football.
Appointments can be made in advance by contacting the Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) and using sponsor code brentwoodbattleofthebadges or by contacting Sara Smyly at firstname.lastname@example.org or Brentwood Fire and Rescue Assistant Fire Chief David Windrow at email@example.com.
The John P. Holt Brentwood Library is located at 8109 Concord Road.