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by Don Schwartz / Arizona Coyotes
Giving blood at Arena is usually the result of a hip check into the boards, an inadvertent stick to the face or the end product of some extra curricular fisticuffs.

But for one morning last Saturday, Coyotes employees, fans and those simply wanting to help people in need, gathered on the main concourse inside Gate 4 for the Holiday Heroes Blood Drive. Hosted by the Coyotes in partnership with United Blood Services, the event provided a much needed power play to the Valley’s blood supply during a time of the year in which the demand for blood is high but donations drop.

“While donor vacations reduce the number of people giving blood, heavy traffic on the roads and highways increases the potential for accidents and the need for blood,” said Audrey Jennings, executive director for United Blood Services/Arizona. “The gift of life is the most important gift of all and doesn’t cost anything, except one hour of your time.”

Having taken place for the second consecutive year, the event has quickly become one of the larger blood drives in the region, thanks to the support of the Coyotes’ community. More than 200 people signed in at this year's drive and gave 179 blood donations. Because blood can be separated into components to benefit several patients, the donations given at the Holiday Heroes event will impact approximately 350 lives throughout Arizona’s hospitals.

“The Phoenix Coyotes helped United Blood Services ‘find the hero’ in more than 200 Arizona residents for the holidays,” Jennings said. “On behalf of the lives they have saved, we offer our heartfelt thanks.”

Those who gave blood at the drive came away with more than knowledge of the good deed they had done. Special gift bags and Olli Jokinen bobblehead dolls were given to everyone who donated. In addition, attendees had the opportunity to meet Olympic Freestyle Wrestling Gold Medalist and Maryvale High School graduate Henry Cejudo and partake in a plenty of replenishing snacks and drinks while children were able to stay entertained in a special kids zone, complete with a Coyotes bounce house and staffed by volunteers from Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

“We’re happy to serve as host for United Blood Service’s annual winter blood drive,” said Sarah Finecey, Coyotes director of community relations. “It’s a cause important to so many people in our organization, not to mention our captain Shane Doan, who, along with his wife, is a regular blood donor. This event continues to grow each year along with the number of lives we’re able to impact. We’re thankful for everyone who came out today and hope to see them again next year.”

For those wanting to donate throughout the year, please visit and find the blood drive nearest you.

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