By Teresa Varley
Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith understood that donating blood was important, but once his young son, Elijah, was diagnosed with leukemia this fall and needed transfusions, his understanding went to a new level.
That is why Smith is encouraging Steelers fans and all others to help out this holiday season, when the need for blood is high and donors are low.
Smith knows that the kindness and generosity of others who have been blood donors is helping Elijah, who turned five this month, with is on-going battle against leukemia.
And when he asks for others to be supportive, it's not Aaron Smith the football player asking, it's Aaron Smith the loving and caring father.
"I don't think people understand the difference it can make in people's lives," said Smith. "Two months ago, I didn't think it was that big a deal to give blood. But you're talking about saving someone's life or a child's life. There is such a shortage.
"Everybody has blood. It's not like you're giving up something. People need to be aware that giving blood is the chance to save someone's life."
And it's easy for fans to help out.
The Steelers will hold their annual blood drive on Friday, Dec. 26 in the team's locker room at Heinz Field from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Registered donors will receive a 2008 Team Photo and be entered in a drawing to win prizes, including two tickets to the Steelers-Browns game. To schedule an appointment, call 412-209-7080. Walk-ins are also welcome.
Others can donate at their local blood banks.
Steelers Blood Drive Details