Spirit of America 500 Blood Drive Celebrates Five-Year Anniversary


Success of Nation's Largest 9-11 Blood Drive at MIS Spawns the National "NASCAR Foundation Blood and Marrow Drive"

As the "Spirit of America 500" celebrates its five-year anniversary on September 11, 2006, at Michigan International Speedway, the nation's largest 9-11 blood drive will introduce a new component to this year's event.

"Unity Field" will be a new stop at this year's Spirit of America 500, featuring nearly 3,000 American flags on display to honor the victims of 9-11. Unity Field, which will be located just south of the MIS Administration Building in Parking Lot 10, will also have a memorial wall displaying all of the victims' names.

"Unity Field is a new element that will really take people's breath away," MIS Director of Guest Services Tim Booth, who created the Spirit of America blood drive back in 2002, said. "The Spirit of America 500 has been extremely successful over the past four years and adding this eight-acre memorial is a fitting way to remind us of those who lost their lives on 9-11 five years ago."

"This special event is dedicated to the victims and survivors of the 2001 terrorist attacks and therefore, we cannot help but get emotionally attached to this blood drive," said Sharon Jaksa, COO of the Great Lakes Region of the American Red Cross. "The tremendous support we receive from Michigan International Speedway, volunteers, blood donors and the community, help us collect hundreds of units of blood that will save thousands of lives."

With its success, the Spirit of America 500 has gained the attention of the NASCAR Foundation, which has introduced the creation of the NASCAR Foundation Blood and Marrow Drive that will take place at 14 speedways on September 11. At MIS in June, the NASCAR Foundation announced its partnership with the Jimmie Johnson Foundation and Hendrick Marrow Program to launch the national blood and marrow drive.

"My work with the American Red Cross has shown me the importance of blood donations," said Johnson, driver of Hendrick Motorsports' No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, back in June. "The NASCAR Foundation Blood and Marrow Drive is a great way to build awareness within the NASCAR family, and I encourage fans everywhere to get involved and participate."

MIS will be joined by Bristol Motor Speedway, California Speedway, Darlington Raceway, Daytona International Speedway, Dover International Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Lowe's Motor Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, Pocono Raceway, Richmond International Raceway, Talladega Superspeedway and Watkins Glen International in support of the national drive. Additionally, Hendrick Motorsports is participating.

Currently the largest 9-11 blood drive in the nation and largest single-day blood drive in Michigan, the Spirit of America 500 has collected more than 1,989 units of blood, enough to help save the lives of nearly 6,000 people. With each unit of blood having the potential to be transfused to up to three people, this year's blood drive could benefit nearly 2,000 people.

After collecting 646 units of blood over a 10-hour period in 2005, blood drive organizers have once again raised the stakes by increasing the time of the event by two hours, thus making it a 12-hour blood drive in 2006. All 950 appointments scheduled for the 12-hour period have been filled. Names, however, are being taken and put on a waiting list. To be added to the waiting list, call the American Red Cross at 1-800-YOU-GAVE or register at www.SpiritofAmerica500.com.

The Great Lakes Region of the American Red Cross collects blood from volunteer donors in 63 Michigan counties and provides blood products to patients in 70 hospitals statewide. In the past year, the Red Cross has experienced frequent and severe blood

shortages. In the past 12 months, supplies have been as low as six hours but rarely higher than two days. The Red Cross considers a three-day supply of all blood types to be safe and adequate for meeting emergency and ongoing medical needs.

Sponsors of the fifth annual Spirit of America 500 include: AAA Michigan, Addison Graphic Solutions, Advance America, Americrown, Brooklyn-Irish Hills Chamber of Commerce, Chicago Party Rental, C&L Sanitation, Consumers Energy, DDM Marketing & Communications, digineer, FOX 47, Hendrick Marrow Program, Indy Racing League, Jimmie Johnson Foundation, Kodak, NASCAR Foundation, Pepsi, OSB Community Bank, Party Plus, Richard Petty Driving Experience, Schwan's, Stone City Productions, Walton Agency and WinCraft.

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