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Alamo Federal Credit Union CEO Issues Blood Donation Challenge: Got 6 Minutes?
Wednesday, February 11, 2015 7:00 AM

Alamo FCU Blood DriveDid you know that one unit of blood could save three lives? The South Texas Blood and Tissue Center must collect an adequate blood supply to meet the needs of 67 hospitals in 43 South Texas counties, and they depend on volunteer blood donors to make that happen. Similar pressures exist on these vital centers all over America.

Can your credit union help?

Alamo Federal Credit Union CEO John Kirk is a frequent visitor to the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center, which is his credit union's neighbor. Recently, during his discussions with the center's chief operating officer, Elizabeth Whitman, Kirk threw out a challenge: if she could beat him in filling the blood bag, he would pay her $50. 

"Whitman took my bet," Kirk said, "not knowing that I was a 'quick bleed' and could finish in six minutes or less. But I had a bad vein that morning and she beat my time."

Kirk's time was 6 minutes, 17 seconds. Whitman's? 5:38.

"No excuses," Kirk added. "She beat me fair and square."

She agreed to a rematch with Kirk in 8-9 weeks, which is the waiting time required between donations.

Want to Go for a Sunday Drive?

Alamo Concierge VehicleAlamo Federal Credit Union was created in January of 1930 by 12 postal employees and is this year celebrating its 85th anniversary. To kick off the occasion, Alamo FCU wanted to do something special and meaningful for the community, so they sponsored a blood drive on Sunday, Jan. 18. They promoted it by offering free lunch (pizza) for every blood donation. As a result of their efforts, the South Texas Blood Center reported the largest single-donation day in its history.

Since credit unions are known for their involvement in their communities, Kirk thought a blood donation challenge would be a great vehicle for inspiring others to help fill this desperate need. He told Whitman about his idea, and she was excited about banding credit unions together to raise awareness; the center's goal is to raise 500 pints per day.

It was a week later that Kirk challenged Whitman to the dueling blood donation. He took his loss and shared it with the Alamo Chapter of Small Credit Unions, which is now strategizing ways to challenge small credit unions to give blood and raise awareness in the communities they serve. He is challenging other credit unions and CEOs around the Cornerstone region, as well.

"Our favorite bank is a blood bank," Kirk says good-humoredly, and his message to other credit unions is simple: "Got 6 Minutes?"

"There's a desperate need for blood," Kirk said. "I think if people knew that it took only six minutes to give, they would give more often. Think about the ALS ice bucket challenge; it was fun and everyone did it, and they raised all kinds of money. This campaign could encourage people to give blood on a regular basis."

The South Texas Blood and Tissue Center website notes that blood is used for many different patients, including cancer patients, open-heart surgery patients, diabetics, recipients of organ or tissue transplants, and trauma victims. The benefits to those donating are a mini-physical (pulse, temperature, and iron check) and the satisfaction of helping to save lives.

"I have donated about nine gallons in my lifetime," Kirk noted. He's working his way to the Ten Gallon Club, which equates to about 80 visits to the clinic. It won't be long before he reaches that milestone.

Cornerstone Credit Union League CEO Dick Ensweiler congratulated Kirk on his efforts. "There is little more important than ensuring an ample blood supply—especially in times of great need," Ensweiler said. "I love the challenge inside Alamo's shop and to all credit unions, small and large, in San Antonio and the entire Cornerstone region."

Cornerstone asks, Any takers out there? We'd love to hear about it. Send your stories to Kimber Cockrill at kcockrill@cornerstoneleague.coop.

 

Alamo Federal Credit Union was created in January of 1930 by 12 postal employees and was originally known as Alamo Postal Credit Union. It was the first credit union established in San Antonio and the 12th in Texas. Today, Alamo FCU is one of the fastest-growing credit unions in San Antonio, offering branch conveniences, free online banking and bill pay, mobile banking, and free access to over 37,000 ATMs nationwide. From its headquarters, a replica of the real Alamo, the credit union also delivers red-carpet service to members' homes, offices, and favorite coffee shops via Concierge Commercial banking.