Digital Exclusive: Community Blood Bank holds ‘Heroes Behind the Badges’ event

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VERMILLION, S.D. (KCAU) – A blood bank in Vermillion held its biggest blood drive of the year on Monday in order to help the community’s blood supply.

Community Blood Bank has its annual “Heroes Behind the Badges” event at Sanford Vermillion Medical Center.

“Heroes Behind the Badges is a friendly competition between the Vermillion Fire Department and EMS versus the law enforcement here in Vermillion. We have been doing this for 16 years now, and the winners of this event receives a traveling trophy and bragging rights for the year,” said Ken Versteeg, Community Blood Bank.

Ken Versteeg, executive director for Community Blood Bank, said the event is about trying to get the most blood donors recruited. People in the community can select which departments their donation will go towards in the competition.

“We have several heroes in our community to make sure that our environment is safe to live in, and the fire and police department do just that. But when people come out to give blood, they are a hero. They’re saving lives here in their local community,” said Versteeg.

First responders in the community can also come to the buses and donate to help their team win and the blood bank’s supply.

But for one local law enforcement official, it was more than just donating blood.

“For me, it was personal. My wife, many years ago, had to have a blood transfusion. It was my wife that actually pushed me to donate. Since that point, I have always donated,” said Robin Hower, Vermillion Police Department.

Robin Hower, a detective for the Vermillion Police Department, has helped run the “Heroes Behind the Badges” event for the past 10 years.

“I think we both want to win. Both sides really reach out to their families, their friends, and everyone in hopes that they can get them to come and donate on their behalf for the event,” said Hower.

Hower adds the true winners of the competition are those who donate blood and the people who receive the blood.

Community Blood Bank is having a difficult time maintaining adequate blood supply due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“So, this will actually help generate interest and provide a fun way for people to come out and give. What this does is it actually provides a stable base for the community’s blood supply here in Vermillion for a couple of months actually,” said Ken Versteeg, Community Blood Supply.

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