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Dragon*Con Blood Drive Hits Mark

There was an 8-foot-tall steam- breathing horned demon, many visitors from galaxies far-far away, monsters scary enough to get the heart pounding, and under all of the intricate costumes and imaginative makeup of those attending Dragon*Con lurked a horde of blood donors.

Dragon*Con is the annual fantasy and science fiction convention held in Atlanta. Five years ago LifeSouth Community Blood Centers held its first drive at this gathering, and every year the staff has been overwhelmed. By the time the bags were all packed and all aliens had left the building on Labor Day 2008, LifeSouth had registered 1,165 at the drive, drew 938 donors, including 75 who donated double-red and 20 apheresis.

LifeSouth’s Corporate Special Promotions Coordinator David Britt, who has worked and promoted the drive at Dragon*Con for the past three years said with more space and resources those numbers would have been even higher.

At LifeSouth blood drives, Britt always arrives in costume, choosing from a dozen different characters, so he fit in well with the Dragon*Con crowd. He rolled out a new creation just for the event, Darth Elvis, who was a big hit. He said the crowd also got a kick that his throat-slitting Sweeney Todd persona was recruiting donors to a blood drive. He estimated that about a quarter of the donors were in costume.

“We had a couple of elves and Vulcans, but they all had red blood,” Britt said.

Dr. Alan R. Koslow is the volunteer chairman for the Heinlein Society Blood Drive at Dragon*Con. The society honors the late science fiction

While many of those who attended Dragon*Con arrived in costume, the LifeSouth Community Blood Centers’ drive team got into the spirit as well.

author Robert Heinlein with blood drives in the “pay it forward” spirit he promoted during his lifetime. Koslow has his own reasons for backing the blood drive. Back home in Des

donors prevailed.

Koslow personally made pitches for donors at the many large panel discussions at the event, and his call for donors was taped and played on

Moines, Iowa, he’s a vascular surgeon

“I actually use a lot of blood products, I definitely understand the importance of it,” he said.

Dragon*Con is run completely by volunteers – an army of more than 2,000 helped bring the 2008 edition to life. Koslow said the cool T-shirt this year was a great incentive to encourage donors, but it was competition that was the real driving force.

The 40,000-plus Dragon*Con attendees wanted to top the more than 800 units gathered at a blood drive at the Comic-Con, the huge comic book convention held in July in San Diego. Comic-Con, Koslow explained, has a professional staff and draws crowds nearly triple the size of the gathering in Atlanta. But still, the Dragon*Con


the closed-circuit Dragon*Con TV that was piped into the hotel rooms of those attending. He also grabbed a spot at the base of a busy escalator and directed donors to the drive. That’s when he discovered that a slip of the tongue can be an effective attention getter. “Save a life, get a T-shirt” was tongue-twisted into “Save a T-shirt, get a life,” that got laughs and donors.

LifeSouth had as many as 38 techs working to handle the crowd, and recruiter Harlequin Gilchrist described the flow as “crazy busy” and the atmosphere as fun.

“We stopped recruiting because the whole crowd was recruiting for us,” Gilchrist said.

And Gilchrist said the excitement over catching and passing Comic- Con spilled over to the hotel staff

Page20 / the Drop - ADRP’s Quarterly Newsletter Winter 2009

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