Students at the University of Calgary are in the midst of a heated feud with the University of Alberta and 10 other schools, but the reward isn't a shiny gold trophy-- it's saving lives.
Held annually for the past six years by Canadian Blood Services, the Blood 101 challenge pits students at 12 post-secondary institutions in 11 cities against each other in a race to see which school can donate the most blood.
Campus club Youth Donors of Canada are the U of C's representative in the challenge, which began Jan. 12.
"We're just past the halfway point and things aren't looking good right now," said Youth Donors of Canada vice-president Simon Sun. "We've got less than a dozen donors."
Sun said that while the U of C is currently a ways away from their goal of 200 donations by Feb. 16, the club anticipated a large turnout at the mobile donor clinic in the Dining Centre on Wednesday Turnout was not available at press time, but Sun mentioned that around 100 people donated during the last mobile clinic in the fall.
Canadian Blood Services community development coordinator Sabrina DiCintio said that Blood 101 has grown in size and scope over the years.
"Every year our target continues to rise," said DiCintio. "This year our goal is 2,400 units of blood across the country. Our campus locations have grown, too."
Sun echoed the need for more students to donate, not only for the U of C to have a strong showing against rivals like the U of A, but also to meet growing demand for blood across Canada.
"We need 90,000 new donors just to keep up with hospital demand," said Sun. "We just want to encourage donors to come regularly and just to keep up with supply and ensure that patients get the blood they need everywhere."
DiCintio pressed the need for new donations, especially given the low time commitment necessary for blood donations. The entire process takes one hour, with the majority of that time allotted for filling out a donation questionnaire, and one unit of donated blood can save up to three lives.
"The actual needle time is usually less than 15 minutes, so people can donate one unit in between five and 10 minutes," said DiCintio. "That is not a long time to kind of tough it out for when you know the impact that one unit is going to have on peoples' family and friends."
The University of Guelph won last year's Blood 101 challenge with 308 donations.