In honor of the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the American Red Cross, the Boston Red Sox and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center partnered up to host a blood drive at Fenway Park Sunday.
The event, officially titled “The Day of Remembrance Blood Drive,” has occurred annually since 2002 and aims to honor the victims of the 9/11 attacks while simultaneously helping hospital patients today, according to a press release from the Red Cross.
For the 14th year in a row, the Red Cross partnered with 9/11 Day, the largest charitable initiative in the United States, to collect blood donations and create a positive environment at the event, according to the release.
Alyson Barraza, a spokesperson for the Red Cross, said that The Day of Remembrance is not only geared toward generating life-saving blood donations, but also toward helping local families who have been impacted by the attack on the World Trade Center heal.
“Local 9/11 families … have actually found that our event is a healing way to give back and mark it as a day of service and not only mourning,” Barraza said.
The event is meant to be a fun experience for Boston families, Barraza said. The blood drive features attractions such as Wally the Green Monster, the Red Sox’s three World Series trophies, face painters, gift bags and free cups of Legal Sea Foods’ clam chowder for blood donors.
“We’re so grateful that they are able to come in and donate and give their time to really make it a positive day to reflect on the 15th anniversary,” Barraza said. “To know that we’re doing our best to make this an event that helps people in need is really rewarding.”
A few attendees said they enjoy going to Fenway for a good cause.
Sandra Jensen, 55, of Saugus, has attended with her boyfriend for five years. She said the experience of being able to come to Fenway for the blood drive is what makes it special to her.
“I think it’s awesome that people can donate at Fenway,” Jensen said. “It brings people together and it’s a great venue to come to regardless.”
Another attendee, Aaron Swartz, 50, of Grafton, said as a Red Sox fan, he donated blood at the event to support his team and his country simultaneously.
“I’m here to support the Red Sox and their blood drive, and it’s great to be able to donate on 9/11,” Swartz said.
This year, the Red Cross’ goal was to collect 850 pints of blood with the help of Boston residents. Barraza said Bostonians have successfully answered the Red Cross’ call to action in the past.
“To date we’ve collected more than 10,000 lifesaving units because of these drives every year with the Red Sox,” Barraza said. “Every time that you donate a pint of blood you can help save up to three lives, so when I say that we’ve collected 10,000 pints over 13 years of doing this drive, we’ve already helped more than 30,000 patients in need.”
Emily Paul, 33, of Brighton, who attended the blood drive, said she donates blood regularly, but The Day of Remembrance stands out to her in particular because of its large turnout.
“Things like this motivate people,” she said. “Oftentimes you go to drives and there’s like two people waiting, not a lineup of 50 people down the hall like this.”
Prior to the blood drive, Barraza said she hoped donors would flock to Fenway on Sept. 11 in particular, but said it is important to donate blood any time during the year.
“Even if you can’t make it out to Fenway, we’re encouraging folks to find blood drives in their area,” Barraza said. “Of course we really encourage people to come out to this particular drive, but no matter where you are, the need is constant.”