March 18 2013 12:00 AM

Annual Battle of the Badges between firefighters and police officers benefits the Red Cross

Tuesday, June 28 — On Saturday, local firefighters and policemen took to the
basketball court as the first step in a drive for blood donations. The final
score — which saw firemen in the lead — launched a running competition between these organizations.
Now, however, it’s anyone’s game, as it’s up to donors to decide who they
want to win.

But while competition may help drive the effort, salvation is
at the heart of this rivalry. Over the next two weeks, the Red Cross hopes to
collect over 700 units of blood, to augment their stores. The competition is
one way it hopes to counteract the traditionally slow summer months, explained
Monica Stoneking, communications director for the American Red Cross.

“People are out travelling, or with family, or they just
don’t think to donate blood,” Stoneking said. “So we figured we could partner
with people out there every day, helping to save lives. We’re helping to save
lives too, just in a different way.”

The Battle of the Badges, as it has come to be called, has
been a staple of the Lansing area for the past 11 years. While each year the
Red Cross tries to make the event a little different, it’s always about promoting
the importance of blood donation and paying thanks to the homegrown and oft-unsung
heroes of the community.

To that end, all fire and police departments from the
Greater Lansing area have been invited to participate. When donating, people
can vote for either firemen or policemen. At the end, the tallied votes will
determine who won the battle.

The blood itself will go to help those in need, at home or
abroad, in case of disasters like the tornadoes that struck Missouri and
Alabama last month.

“Every one donation helps to save up to three lives,” Stoneking
said. “Blood can be broken down to three products: whole blood, platelets and
plasma. You take an hour out of your time, you’re positively impacting up to
three people.”

If that isn’t enough of an incentive, the contest also
includes the potential for prizes, as well as food. Every month this summer,
everyone donating throughout the Great Lakes area will have the opportunity to
win a $500 Best Buy Gift card, a $125 Meijer gas card and Common Ground concert
tickets, among prizes.

Kroger and Cottage Inn Pizza will provide breakfast and
lunch items, respectively, for donors at the Lansing Donor Center.

“It’s our way of letting our donors know that a) w
appreciate them; and b) we understand the tough economic times — and donating
blood doesn’t cost anything. I know this sounds clich,” Stoneking said, “but
what better gift to give than the gift of life?”

The contest ends on July 9.
To give blood, appointments can be arranged with the Lansing Donor Center.