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Players Rally at Blood Drive for Former Football Coach

As fans across the country get ready for the football event of the season, the American Red Cross recognizes the power of teams and their community to rally together to help save a life.

Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs a blood transfusion. And that blood transfusion can only come from generous donors who graciously roll up a sleeve to give. For alumni football players of Rush Henrietta High School near Rochester, New York, they were eager to get off the sideline and donate in honor of their former coach.

Dedication on and off the field

Admired and respected by students, players and colleagues, Coach Werner Kleemann, now 75-years-old, dedicated his career to teaching and coaching. He earned a renowned place in New York State history as a Section V Hall of Fame football coach. Highly regarded in the community for his leadership qualities, Coach Kleemann is a coaching icon, instilling sportsmanship, a strong work ethic and selflessness among his players and students.

This past fall, that love for others was demonstrated while Coach Kleemann visited with a group of Rush Henrietta alumni football players. He informed them of his current battle with leukemia and that like others diagnosed with the illness, he is receiving weekly blood transfusions. In response, his former football players, his family, and the Rush Henrietta School District organized to hold a blood drive in Coach Kleemann’s honor.

“Donating blood at this special blood drive is a great way to honor Coach Kleemann while giving back to the community that he has served, loved, and lived in for so many years,” said John Sacchitella, student and Varsity football player under Coach Kleemann who participated in the blood drive held this past November.

While Coach Kleemann often feels guilt receiving blood transfusions that he knows are also urgently needed by others, the blood drive helped to meet Coach Kleemann’s treatment needs and those of other patients. The blood drive brought in 240 donations, pushing over the goal line for donations that day.

“I am so proud and grateful for the support from our entire community, from students through senior citizens, and all who have donated blood,” said Coach Kleemann. “It is so gratifying to see the record breaking amount of blood that was collected to help others in need of blood products. Thank you to our local Red Cross team and the event organizers who helped make this blood drive such a special event.”

Join the team effort and make a difference

Patients like Coach Kleeman depend on lifesaving blood donations every day. Their battle is not easy, but you can help contribute to their treatment by donating blood or platelets. Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for more information.

Those not able to give at Coach Kleeman’s blood drive could also participate in this team effort through his SleevesUp campaign. SleevesUp is a virtual blood drive where colleagues, friends and family members can give blood or platelets, or make a financial donation to support their campaign. SleevesUp campaigns allow people to honor someone’s life, celebrate a special occasion or simply bring others together to help save lives – any time of the year – regardless of location. To learn more about SleevesUp campaigns, visit

All those who come to donate from Jan. 30 to Feb. 26, 2017, are eligible to receive a $5 gift card via email for making blood and platelet donation a priority this winter.

Learn the basics for blood donation

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 in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), 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.

Blood donors can now save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, prior to arriving at the blood drive. To get started and learn more, visit and follow the instructions on the site.

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.

Ready To Donate

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