Official Store

    Purple Pride Blood Drive: Donations Save Lives

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Former Northwestern football players Dan Persa and Brian Mulroe with Purple Pride Blood Drive donor Craig Likhite with son, Cade.
    Former Northwestern football players Dan Persa and Brian Mulroe with Purple Pride Blood Drive donor Craig Likhite with son, Cade.

    April 16, 2014

    Purple Pride Blood Drive Photo Gallery

    Wildcat Meet and Greet Photo Gallery

    By Jocelyn Vinoya Serranilla

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Purple Pride Blood Drive, a blood donation initiative by Northwestern Athletics and LifeSource, has collected 349 units of blood during the 2013-14 campaign, translating to a potential 1,047 lives saved through blood transfusions this year alone.

    In only its second year since its inception during the 2012-13 season, Purple Pride Blood Drive has made an impact in the community, collecting blood supply good enough to save at least 1,830 lives in the Chicagoland area as more donors become aware of donation initiatives made by Northwestern and LifeSource.

    At 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 12, Purple Pride Blood donors have already packed the Stadium Club on the seventh floor of Ryan Field. Among them was Wildcat season ticket holder Nicholas Bullock, with his wife, Alysia and children, 5-year-old Chloe, 2-year-old Lyla, and 5 month old Nora cooped in her baby stroller, in tow. Not even a forecast of hale, rain, and thunderstorm through Chicagoland could drive away Bullock from donating blood on Saturday, the culmination of this season's blood donation initiative.

    "It's something we can do," said Bullock, a Wildcat season ticket holder for three years now. He's a second-generation Wildcat supporter, with his parents being season ticket holders for 15 years. On his blood donation, he said, "It's easy so I don't see why not. It helps someone out. There's nothing to be afraid of. I have no issues with needles." Asked what brought him and his family to Evanston that day, he said it's both the football spring game and the blood drive.

    Last Saturday's Purple Pride Blood Drive took place concurrent with the football team's spring practice, which was originally open to the public from 10 a.m. until noon, but because of inclement weather, was moved indoors.

    In addition to watching the abbreviated spring game, donors received an autographed football, signed by NU head coach Pat Fitzgerald, and had the opportunity to meet former standout football players Dan Persa, Jeremy Ebert and Brian Mulroe. The trio treated Wildcats fans in the Stadium Club with their autographs and photo sessions. Purple Pride blood donors also received free ticket vouchers to see the seven-time national champion women's lacrosse team host USC at historic Wrigley Field on Saturday, April 26. Donors were also entered into the Donor of the Month contest with the opportunity to win more great prizes.

    "We can't thank our loyal fan base enough for their continued participation with the Purple Pride Blood Drive initiative," said Maureen Palchak, Assistant Athletic Director for Community Relations. "Surpassing our goal and impacting so many local lives wouldn't have been possible without their support. In conjunction with our partner, LifeSource, we are eager and excited to build on the momentum and begin planning for another successful year!"

    For two years now, the campaign has attracted Wildcats supporters to Ryan Field to donate potentially life-saving blood. Ryan Connors, account executive of Northwestern Sports Properties said, "What we do is we host Purple Pride Blood Drive with Lifesource and we promote these blood drives to our fans, students, alums, faculty and staff."

    Members of Northwestern's women's basketball team, freshmen Tessa Haldes, Christen Inman, Nia Coffey and Allie Tuttle, who watched spring practice on the sidelines earlier with their teammates and coaches, headed to the Stadium Club to donate blood. Except for Tuttle who has donated blood in high school back in her hometown in North Carolina, the three players were first-time donors. Coffey, NU's first-ever freshman First Team All-Big Ten, going for her first-ever blood donation, said she has no fear of needles. "I'm actually excited."

    Husband and wife Nathan and Armi Cachila said donating blood is "something we do regularly." Nathan, a Northwestern alum, and Armi, who works for Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management, said they found out about the drive through Facebook. "It's a great way to connect to the school and give back to the community."

    Wildcat fan Ron Day, who has donated blood through other organizations in the past, found out about the blood drive through an e-mail and signed up immediately. "Someday I might need it. It also makes me feel good to help others," Day said as he acknowledged being a first time blood donor at NU.

    Shawn Basak said he has given blood before but it was his first time to donate blood at Northwestern. "I found out about it through It's such a good cause. Anything Northwestern endorses, I try to be a part of," he said. His friend Daniel Bart came for the spring game and did not exactly know about the blood drive but said he will donate in the future.

    Katherine Damisch, clutching her Pat Fitzgerald-signed football said, "It's a good thing to do for people in need. It's easy to do, too. You just kinda sit there. Don't be afraid and just go for it." She said it was her very first time to donate blood and had to look up the internet for some tips. "Eat a good meal, get a good night's sleep, and drink lots of water." Asked how she found out about the blood drive, she said, "I follow Northwestern on Twitter and I saw there's a blood drive and I decided to participate."

    Craig Likhite, husband of Northwestern women's cross country coach April Likhite, with son 8-year-old Cade, was also a first time blood donor at Northwestern but has donated to Lifesource before. "I like it for several reasons - you're doing good. It's probably not the worst way to rejuvenate your own blood supply, too. And I wanted my son to see what the donation process was like." He said his son Cade was also looking forward to attending his football clinic. When asked what his favorite football position was, Cade replied, "I want to be a receiver."

    Peter Kopf said, "Maybe one day I might need it. When something happens to you, an accident, maybe? You have to prepare." He said this is his second time donating his blood at Northwestern. "It's almost as good as giving money. Something you can miss but can always get back." His friend of 25 years, season ticket holder and Wildcat Fund contributor David Parker has consistently donated his blood for 20 years now, and on Saturday, April 12, marked the second time he has donated blood to Purple Pride Blood Drive.

    Asked what he would tell others who might have a hesitation to donate blood, Wildcat fan Zachary Sersland said, "Just do it. It's pretty painless."

    Spring football practice on Saturday, April 12, was scheduled to culminate in various youth football clinics in Ryan Field and nearby grass and practice field turf. But due to a severe weather advisory, football practice was moved indoors and children and their parents were advised to seek shelter indoors in Trienens Hall.

    With the unexpected change of activities, the children and players used their time to mingle. Head football coach Pat Fitzgerald thanked the kids and their parents for supporting Northwestern Athletics. Football players signed autographs on mini purple footballs, paper cups and T-shirts, and posed for souvenir pictures with their young fans.

    Dean Lowry, a Rockford, Ill. native, undeterred by Chicago's uncooperative weather, played catch with the kids that have gathered around him, prompting some parents to snap more photos of the 6-6, 265 lb. defensive lineman. Offensive lineman Eric Olson, a 290 lb., 6-6 offensive lineman, demonstrated for a kid a three-point stance in the line of scrimmage.

    Nine year-old Angela Correa and her 7-year-old brother, Jesse collected player autographs on the T-shirts they were wearing. Like many of the children in attendance, they had players sign their T-shirts, lighting up to show off their collection. When asked who her favorite player was, Angela blurted, "This guy!" while pointing to #13's autograph on her shirt. When told it was the autograph of Wildcat quarterback Trevor Siemian, she said, "Yes! I'm gonna wear this shirt every single football game."

    The Correa family, like many families who showed up for spring game, signed up for the day's free football clinics, which Northwestern scheduled with corporate sponsors USA Football, Riddell and Meijer. Nearly 1,000 elementary school-aged children signed up for the clinic which was free for youths in 8th grade and under. All activities were scheduled outdoors but the weather changed all plans.

    Stephen Tilley and his wife, Joby, brought their three kids to spring game, hoping that their son, five year-old Samuel and six year-old daughter, Maddie could participate in age-appropriate clinics. They also brought their six month-old son, Andrew. With Willie the Wildcat showing up and posing for pictures, all was well with the Tilley family.


    Be the first to know what's going on with the 'Cats -- Follow @NU_Sports on Twitter, become a fan of Northwestern Athletics on Facebook, subscribe to the NU Sports Express e-newsletter and sign up to receive promotional text alerts for the latest news, schedule updates and video and to interact with NU. For more information on following specific Northwestern teams online, visit our Social Media page!