By Dawn Krebs
ST. LUCIE COUNTY - From the need to help two children has sprung an annual donation event that is expected to exceed all records for blood donation.
Now in its fourth year, the "Be a Hero" blood drive, sponsored by the Van Duzer Foundation, will take place Nov. 14 at Big Apple Pizza in Fort Pierce owned by Scott Van Duzer.
The pizza shop is also the location of several fundraisers throughout the year for area residents.
"This has grown so much," Mr. Van Duzer said. "The first year, we had 10 sponsors. Last year, we had more than 40."
So far, more than 60 teams have signed up to participate in the 24-hour blood drive.
It all began when Mr. Van Duzer learned that two children needed blood to help combat cancer. Because of a blood shortage, one of the children had to wait hours before receiving a donation. Since then, blood donation buses have been regular sights at the pizza parlor.
Since its beginnings in 2008, the annual blood drive has collected more than 1,000 pints of blood, and led to friendly competitions between the cities of Fort Pierce and Port St. Lucie, as well as St. Lucie County employees and employees of local businesses.
"We will have buses on the Big Apple Pizza property here in Fort Pierce," Mr. Van Duzer said. "There will also be two buses at the Port St. Lucie city hall and two at the St. Lucie Medical Center."
Last year's winner of a traveling trophy for most blood donated by a group went to Indian River State College.
Blood donors will not only give the gift of life, they will have a chance to receive something back, as there will be raffles held throughout the day to win a variety of prizes.
"I want to see a lot of first-time donors here this year," he said. "Donating blood for the first time is very important. It means the word is getting out."
Big Apple Pizza is located at 2311 S. 35th St. in Fort Pierce. For more information, call Mr. Van Duzer at (772) 528-3467.