Steelers fans bleed black and gold

Steelers fans claim to bleed black and gold and at a recent blood drive at Heinz Field, some of them did just that.

The Steelers teamed with Central Blood Bank to host the Annual Holiday Blood Drive, allowing donors the opportunity to provide a potentially life-saving gift.

"We value our relationship with the Steelers very, very much," said John Pepper, Executive Director of Marketing Communications for Central Blood Bank. "It means the world to us, from the blood bank perspective, but more importantly it means the world to area patients. We rely on the Steelers blood drive during this time of year to bring blood in."

Central Blood Bank supports and supplies 40 area hospitals, with the majority of the blood collected from both days of the drive benefiting local patients.

"It makes me feel good to be able to help people, so it's nice that they have an event like this that brings it to everybody's attention," said donor Valerie Wright. "We can come out and help people that we might not ever know."

Safety Ryan Clark, who attended to personally thank donors and sign autographs, couldn't agree more. After being hospitalized in 2007 for complications from a sickle-cell trait, the blood drive has become near and dear to his heart.

"Being someone who was in the hospital for an extended period of time, I understand how important it is to have your blood type available if you need it," said Clark. "It's not hard. You can just come out and give blood."

For Clark, giving blood is a deed that's not only simple, but rewarding as well.

"You can actually save lives," said Clark. "There are not many things you can do where you can say as a direct result of something I did, a life was saved."

Almost as important as the Steelers commitment to the blood drive is their fans' commitment.

"I'm a fan for life, I grew up watching the Steelers and watching the Super Bowls," said Wright. "But I love that about them, that they do things for the community, for kids and for needy people and things like that."

And the Central Blood Bank is thankful that the Steelers and their fans are willing to work together to help them.

"There's an emotional attachment between our donors and Steelers fans," said Pepper. "So to use Ryan, to use the Steelers, to get folks to be a little more interested in blood donation and to actually come out and donate during a difficult time of year, when we all have a lot of distractions during the holidays, it just makes a lot of sense."

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