For as long as he can remember, giving blood has been a part of Bill Williams’ life.
It all began when Bill’s parents had their two sons accompany them to blood drives to plant the idea that “this is just what you do”. On Bill’s 17th birthday, his dad offered him a choice. “We can go give blood and then go anywhere you want for dinner, or we can go grab a burger and come home,” the elder Williams said. Bill gave blood that day and continued to donate both in college and after.
“In some sense I was doing my part,” he said. “But I wasn’t doing all I could.” Then September 11, 2001 occurred and Bill made his way to the local Red Cross blood donation center. “Like many Americans, I waited for hours to donate blood,” he said. “Unlike many Americans, I came back eight weeks later.”
“Every time I donated, I’d announce it on the social media du jour,” Williams said. “Sometimes my post reminded someone that they were going to give blood too. It felt great – I had doubled the impact of my donation.”
Bill is now a double red cell donor, giving two units of blood every four months. In May, he will receive a pin for donating eight gallons of blood. “I use donor pins for pushpins in my office, where my co-workers can see them,” he said. “Like my parents, it’s my way of saying ‘this is just what you do.’”
Williams participates in various Red Cross programs for blood donors. And he is a fan of Red Cross Racing, a national campaign to raise awareness about the importance of giving blood. “My package of goodies from Red Cross Racing arrived and Brayden [his 3-year-old son] loved the replica of the #16 car,” Williams said. “When he put on the cap and tee shirt, it was a photo-op too cute to pass up.” Williams tweeted the photo and the response was overwhelming.
“Maybe that picture prompted one more person to donate, or to join the Red Cross Racing program,” Williams said. “But to me it was just one more example of how donating blood is a part of who we are as a family.”
In its fourth year, Red Cross Racing is a partnership with the Red Cross, 3M and Roush Fenway Racing to promote the need for blood donations. NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Greg Biffle, a Red Cross blood donor and driver of the #16 Roush Fenway Ford Fusion, will wear the Red Cross fire suit and feature the full Red Cross paint scheme on his car at two races this year — at Michigan International Speedway on June 19, 2011, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 31, 2011.
The 2011 program features the Hall of Fame collection, and an upcoming promotion will allow participants to exchange their Red Cross Racing points for Best Buy Reward Zone points. Members can also donate their Donor Rewards points back to the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) program to provide items like telephone calling cards and comfort kits for members of the military and their families.