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Be a Hero Bicycle Tour Completes 1,000 Miles to Promote Blood Donations

That special six-year-old served as an inspiration for this event and his short life is a reminder for all of us of the importance of donating blood.

From Lake Park, Florida to Washington, D.C. it is more than 1,000 miles. Google Maps estimates it would take approximately 90 hours to bike that distance. Could you do it?

Some amazing volunteers on the Be a Hero Bicycle Tour 2012 did. They tackled the distance, riding through the summer heat to help raise awareness about the constant need for blood. Their journey comes at an important time, as the American Red Cross has issued an urgent appeal to blood donors to roll up a sleeve and help alleviate a summer blood shortage.

The cyclists were volunteers from the Scott Van Duzer Foundation and Boys and Girls Club of St. Lucie County, and the tour started in cooperation with Florida’s Blood Centers. Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood, and the riders were on a mission to help boost the nation’s blood supply.

The Scott Van Duzer Foundation began promoting blood donation about four years ago when they met a boy named Gibbs Antoine who was suffering from brain cancer. His father worked for Florida’s Blood Centers, and they made an instant connection with Gibbs and his dad Josenel. Sadly, six-year-old Gibbs recently lost his fight with the disease. His death has reminded and refocused the riders on the Be a Hero Bike Ride to promote the importance of blood donation.

As the Be a Hero riders covered about 50 miles each day, they made stops to help spread the word about blood donation. When they arrived in Washington, DC, a special ceremony Wednesday celebrated the end of their journey and honored Gibbs’ memory.

“That special six-year-old served as an inspiration for this event and his short life is a reminder for all of us of the importance of donating blood. His legacy will be the many lives that generous blood donors helped save by taking the time to give after hearing about his life and story,” said Don Baker, CEO of the Red Cross Greater Chesapeake & Potomac Blood Services Region. “Thank you to everyone participating in this wonderful ride and event. It is a true representation of the volunteer spirit and grass roots effort that

U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin, MD, MBA and Deputy Surgeon General RADM Boris D. Lushniak attended the ceremony marking the end of the Be a Hero tour. Benjamin personally thanked the riders and expressed her appreciation for their efforts to ensure a sufficient blood supply is available for patients in need.

The Red Cross is the nation’s largest blood supplier, providing approximately 40 percent of the blood needed in the U.S. Blood donations declined in June and in the first week of July, leading to an emergency appeal for donors. All blood types are currently needed – especially O positive, O negative, B negative and A negative in order to meet the demand this summer.

Call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or go online to to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license, or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements. Read more about the eligibility requirements.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.