Chargers host 34th annual blood drive - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Chargers host 34th annual blood drive

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The 34th annual Chargers Blood Drive, touted as one of the biggest of its kind, was underway Tuesday at the Town & Country Convention Center.

Those who donate will receive a free T-shirt and a chance to see Chargers players and former greats, including Rolf Benirschke, Billy Ray Smith, Jim Laslavic, Darren Bennett and Hank Bauer.

Participants can enter to win a Honda CR-V. They can also be screened for high blood pressure, diabetes and sleep apnea. Body-mass index testing and a bone marrow registry were also available.

A fashion show is scheduled at 5:30 p.m., featuring Chargers players including Melvin Ingram and Corey Liuget.

"It's awesome -- it's a great cause," Chargers long-snapper Mike Windt told a local news station while he signed autographs.

Running back Jackie Battle, tackle Jeromey Clary, cornerback Marcus Gilchrist, placekicker Nick Novak and safety Eric Weddle were also on hand.

The drive started in 1979 when Benirschke, a popular placekicker at the time, developed ulcerative colitis and underwent two surgeries to remove his large intestine, which required about 80 pints of blood.

Team officials called the San Diego Blood Bank and asked if they could collect donations. About 1,000 fans showed up at the stadium the next day and donated nearly 300 pints of blood.

"It really started around the love affair that the city had with the team," Benirschke said at last year's blood drive, when more than 1,000 pints were collected. "I just happened to be the one that was sick. Some people waited four hours to give blood."

In the first 33 years of blood drives, more than 65,000 pints have been donated, according to the team.


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