Graysen Cameron knows from experience why it’s important to give blood.
The former Humboldt Broncos team member was on the bus last April when a semi-trailer truck struck it near Armley, Sask.
“I was lucky enough not to need any blood transfusions but a lot of my teammates did,” he said. “It saves lives so it’s very important to me and a lot of people and just something I think everyone should do.”
The tragic crash killed 16 Humboldt players, staff and volunteers and injured 13. As a result, Canadians from across the country showed support by holding vigils and tributes.
In the accident, Cameron suffered a broken vertebra and a small fracture on his femur. He could no longer play competitive hockey.
The Olds native now lives in Red Deer and is the assistant coach to the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs. He was at the Centrium Wednesday night to support Canadian Blood Services to kick off its annual blood donation challenge between the Red Deer Rebels and Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Cameron, 19, said he is thankful for all the support from Canadians after the crash.
“Life is short,” he said. “It’s just great to get out and help and show support and this is just something a lot of people rallied around. It’s a great thing to see.”
He added, “I just hope they can show support for Canadian Blood Services and any other kind of charities that are linked to STARS and all that other stuff.”
Shaun Richer with Red Deer’s Canadian Blood Services called the annual blood donor challenge, “A friendly rivalry between, not only the two hockey teams, but also between the two locations for Canadian Blood Services in Red Deer and Lethbridge.”
Last year, Red Deer won the challenge, so there is “pressure on us,” he said. Richer encouraged Red Deer residents to donate blood throughout January.
“It’s about the importance of donating blood and just a friendly challenge to see which team and which city, can raise the most blood donations at the end of January.”
Blood donors are needed all the time, according to Canadian Blood Services, the national non-profit charitable organization which collects the national blood supply and manufactures blood products and stem cells. Fifty per cent of Canadians will either need blood or know someone who needs it, the website reads.
For an appointment in Red Deer, call 403-309-3378. Donations can also be booked using the GiveBlood app or by visiting www.blood.ca.