Riverview High Principal Bob Heilmann has always been heavily involved with blood drives in his community.
“In the ‘80s and ‘90s, East Bay High School was a community leader with blood donations,” said Heilmann, who spent 11 years at East Bay as a guidance counselor and assistant principal. “We brought that philosophy to Riverview High School.”
On Thursday, Florida Blood Services, a division of OneBlood Inc., announced Riverview High had won the “School Blood Drive Award.” The national competition was sponsored by America’s Blood Centers.
“We have a great relationship with Oneblood and, because of them, we are receiving this award,” Heilmann said.
Over the past five years, Riverview High students, faculty, parents and alumni have donated more than 7,000 pints of blood in the course of 25 blood drives on the school’s campus. They are among the state leaders in both number of donations and the percentage of student body participation.
Heilmann has donated more than eight gallons of blood and is routinely the first donor to step up to the plate.
“My job is to give first, then encourage the other Sharks to get in line,” he said.
Each drive is sponsored and promoted by members of Student Government, who recruit other students to give blood, manage the flow of donors during each event, and organize a cookout to help feed each participant.
In addition to receiving the award presentation in the school cafeteria, the event helped illustrate the life-saving properties of blood donations.
Area resident Renee Gandy spoke during the event about her son Joshua’s battle with leukemia and his reliance on donors for multiple blood transfusions. Joshua, who also celebrated his 11th birthday on Thursday, has been off chemotherapy for one year.
“It is a simple philosophy: give something back to others or the community,” Heilmann said.