The Washington Redskins teamed up with Inova Blood Donor Services to host a blood drive at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va, on Saturday, January 10, 2015.
The Washington Redskins' indoor practice facility on Saturday was transformed into one of the area's more unique blood donation centers.
From 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Redskins teamed up with Inova Blood Donor Services to host a blood drive as part of Inova's "Give Local, Save Local" campaign. All of the blood collected in the effort will be supplied to local hospitals in the Northern Virginia.
Along with several members of the community coming out to support the cause, Redskins alumni Dexter Manley, Gary Clark, Ken Harvey and Ricky Ervins were also in attendance to support donors – designated as "Hometown Heroes" – for their efforts.
"Donating blood is something that you don't think about until you need it and sometimes you don't realize how valuable it is until you need it," Harvey said. "Hopefully no one does, but if you do, these people are real heroes because they're taking the time to donate blood."
While donors also got to experience the atmosphere at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va., they were also sent home with limited-edition Redskins Salute t-shirts and plenty of photos and autographs from a handful of Redskins legends, as well as the opportunity to take pictures with the franchise's three Super Bowl trophies.
A lifetime Redskins fan, Arash Habibzadeh of Washington, D.C., came out to not only give back to the community, but also to support the community outreach program of the burgundy and gold.
"The Redskins organization is behind that and I definitely value that being a Washingtonian," he said. "Born in D.C. and being with the Washington Redskins all my life, this is even more enjoyable."
Ashley Lagasse also enjoyed the opportunity to give blood while also getting to take a look around the home of her favorite team.
"It is awesome that they set this up because it's great because most people don't get to see the facility, so it's nice to do both," she said. "It's so rewarding to both give blood and be able to visit the facility and see the trophies."
Inova Blood Donor Services is the largest hospital-based blood-collection operation in the nation. All blood collected by Inova stays in the area, going to any of the 24 hospitals in the Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., metro area.
It is estimated that donated blood can help save more than 265,000 lives per year, and that donating blood for one hour can save up to three lives.
"There's only one source of blood to save patients' lives and that's from a donor," Terri Craddock, the Director of Inova Blood Donor Services, said. "So it's important we collect blood every day."
While the donors gave blood, all four of the Redskins legends walked around and provided support on Saturday, posing for pictures and stopping by each participant to share a few stories.
For Manley, supporting the service while also supporting the fans of his former team is what makes appearing at these events worthwhile.
"I have a real passion about the Redskins organization," the two-time Super Bowl champ said. "I've been with these guys and it's still in my blood, although that's what brings me out here, support the blood drive."
For Ervins, the opportunity for the former running back to come out and mingle with the fans was just too good to pass up. The 1991 Super Bowl champion also brought his ring out for all to enjoy and to try on.
"This is my second time doing it. I did it in D.C. at the convention center," he said. "I love working with kids and working with people, but seeing the community coming down and being involved, that's the greatest thrill I get."
Likewise, Clark, a two-time Super Bowl champion, just enjoyed getting to spend some time with the fans and support the cause.
"It's awesome. It's more important to see the people who come to the events like this," he said. "I'm part of the Redskins. I like to come out and support pretty much everything they do and to see all these people come out to give blood to such a worthy cause, it's just awesome."