The Buckeye Blood Club is seeking local donors on and off campus in the 38th blood-donation contest against “That Team Up North" and its fans.
Last November, Ohio State University won a war but lost a battle when the Buckeyes rolled over “That Team Up North,” otherwise known as the University of Michigan, in a 62-39 victory.
The Wolverines have not beaten the Buckeyes on the football field since 2011, and they have won only twice since 2003.
But they had the upper hand in last year’s Blood Battle, an annual tradition pitting the Buckeyes against their gridiron rival that involves the collection of blood donations on campus and in Gahanna and Upper Arlington.
The sting from handing over the Blood Battle trophy to Michigan on the field at Ohio Stadium last year during “the Game” still lingers with Elise Gramlich, president of the Buckeye Blood Club.
“I was on the field, and we had to give the trophy to Michigan, which was quite sad,” said Gramlich, a 2017 Pickerington High School Central graduate and Ohio State junior.
The Blood Battle started in 1982 as a challenge between Ohio State and Michigan students to see who could generate the most blood donations in the month leading up to the football game.
The Buckeye Blood Club hopes to regain the trophy during the 38th installment of the competition from Oct. 30 to Nov. 27. A schedule, including blood-drive locations and times, is available at versiti.org/bloodbattle.
Anyone healthy enough to give blood who is age 16 or older may donate during 44 public blood drives that will be held on the Ohio State campus. Ohio State students also may donate during 14 drives in campus residence halls.
In addition, Versiti Blood Center of Ohio, blood provider to the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, will hold public drives for the competition in Gahanna and Upper Arlington.
An Upper Arlington drive is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5, at the Ohio State Office of Advancement, 1480 W. Lane Ave.
The Gahanna event will be from 2 to 8 p.m. Nov. 18 at Ohio State Outpatient Care Gahanna, 920 N. Hamilton Road.
Every Blood Battle donation in central Ohio will go to Wexner Medical Center patients.
All Buckeye blood donors also will receive a commemorative Blood Battle T-shirt and will be entered to win two tickets to the Ohio State-Michigan football game Nov. 30 in Ann Arbor.
The prize includes an overnight stay.
“Ohio State is the heart and soul of central Ohio,” said Jennifer Birtler-Hutchinson, a Versiti senior account manager and a 1994 Gahanna Lincoln High School graduate. “So many of us rely on our health and wellness being supported by the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
“Now we can support Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center patients,” she said. “Bringing the Blood Battle drive out into the community gives us all the opportunity to bleed scarlet and gray.”
Birtler-Hutchinson said the Blood Battle provides significant assistance to people at the Wexner Medical Center and patients in Michigan.
Last year, more than 4,500 people gave blood during the challenge.
This year, each school has a goal of at least 2,000 donors.
“In a normal month, an account manager like myself would have about 25 blood drives that would generate, say, 700 donations, at most,” Birtler-Hutchinson said. “To make sure that we can meet patient needs, we heavily rely on our Buckeyes to come roll up a sleeve.”
The Blood Battle and promoting blood donations is a personal mission for Gramlich, whose 5-year-old niece, Allie Conover, died in March 2017, fewer than two years after Allie, whose story was told in the ThisWeek Pickerington Times-Sun in November 2018, was diagnosed with an abnormal connection between an artery and vein in her brain and three months after she suffered a related stroke.
“She had multiple surgeries,” Gramlich said. “She was given crazy units of blood – around 16 units – and one of them was to save her life.
“Ever since then, my family has been huge in advocating for giving blood and why it’s so important. We wouldn’t have had as much time with her if people didn’t give an hour of their day to give blood.”
Gramlich said the Buckeye Blood Club is trying to promote the Blood Battle on campus and beyond because the need for blood supplies is ever present and often greater during winter, when trauma incidents and illnesses can spike.
She said her experiences with her niece led her to realize donors can help more people than just those who receive their blood.
“It affects more than just the person (who) gets the blood,” Gramlich said. “It’s not just the recipients. It’s their families; it’s their friends – everyone in their life benefits from the donation.
“It’s going to impact them way longer than you’ll even think about it.”
For more information about the Blood Battle, scheduling an appointment to give blood or to find a donation tracker, go to versiti.org/bloodbattle or call 800-485-6594.