Since 1979, the Chargers Blood Drive has been saving lives in San Diego, but with the NFL team’s move to Los Angeles, could the San Diego Padres be stepping up to the plate to save it?
“We’d be very happy to attach our name to the blood drive,” said Ron Fowler, Executive Chairman of the San Diego Padres.
In an exclusive interview with NBC7, Fowler said he believes the blood drive is too important and saves too many lives to let it end, saying “This is all about community. It’s a great community effort the Chargers had; if they’re not here I want to make sure the blood drive doesn’t go away.”
San Diego Blood Bank Chief Executive Officer David Wellis tells NBC 7 that with the Chargers’ move to Los Angeles, the Chargers Blood Drive will not continue as constituted in San Diego. The event will move forward without the Chargers.
Wellis says that minutes after the Chargers announced their move to Los Angeles, he started receiving phone calls, text and emails from people “wanting to help.”
Wellis says, since its inception in 1979, the Chargers Blood Drive has collected over 73,000 pints of blood, “That translates to a couple of hundred thousand lives that we’ve saved.”
“The blood drive saves thousands of lives and that’s what it’s all about, to go away would be terrible for the community and we don’t want to see that happen. It’s important, it saves lives, what better thing to be involved with,” said Fowler.
Whether the Padres become the sole sponsor of the annual blood drive or become part of a larger partnership remains to be seen. According to officials with the Padres and the San Diego Blood Bank it’s a very fluid situation. However, both Wellis and Fowler said whatever happens, the blood drive needs to keep happening, keep growing and keep being an annual San Diego tradition.
In a Sunday phone call, Fowler pledged his support to Rolf Benirschke, the former Charger kicker whose need for donated blood was the inspiration behind the first Chargers Blood Drive.
“I called Rolf and said if there needs to be a home for the blood drive, we (the Padres) want to be involved and you tell us to what level and we’ll be happy to work with a broader San Diego community to do it, but we just want to make sure the blood drive continues and grows, we don’t want it to go away,” said Fowler.
“Maybe there’s a chance to grow it, in the sense that if we get more sports teams involved it could get even bigger,” Wellis says.