Hundreds Turn Out for Chargers Blood Drive

By Tony Shin
|  Tuesday, Nov 30, 2010  |  Updated 5:45 PM PDT
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People showed up throughout the day in Mission Valley on Tuesday to participate in the 32nd annual Chargers Blood Drive.

Hundreds of donors went home afterward with autographs from Chargers stars -- including Philip Rivers, Ryan Matthews and Legedu Naanee -- after donating a pint of blood.

All of the blood drawn Tuesday was being donated to the San Diego Blood Bank.

The event began 32 years ago when Chargers kicker Rolf Benirschke needed 80 pints of blood for two surgeries. Somebody at the Chargers camp heard about the situation, and the team contacted a local radio station. One thousand people showed up to donate blood, and the rest is Chargers history.

"It's humbling, really, to know that a really difficult time I went through has turned into such a positive experience," Benirschke said on Tuesday. "I mean, there are people who come up to me and say, 'I've been here all 32 blood drives!' And they show me their T-shirts, and they just appreciate what's been done as a result of my illness. And, really, it's no credit to me -- it's a credit to the team and to the blood bank for doing it, and, really, credit to the community that has stepped up every year, regardless of how well or not well the team does. They still show up and give blood."

In 2009, the San Diego Blood Bank drew 1,600 pints of blood. They were hoping to top that figure this year.

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