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Heroes united for a good cause




The 11th annual competition between the area's public safety agencies to bring in the most blood donors began Thursday at the American Red Cross donation center in Hays.

Officials with Hays and Ellis County law enforcement, the city and rural fire departments and Ellis County Emergency Medical Services attended the kickoff for Battle of the Badges. Donors can vote for their favorite group until Dec. 31, and the winner is awarded a traveling trophy.

EMS has won the friendly rivalry five times, the fire departments have claimed first place three times and law enforcement has been victorious twice.

Kerry McCue, EMS director, joked his group has won the most because it takes care of sick people and does not write tickets.

"We poke fun at each other as agencies because, you know, we like to win. But the bottom line is, it's a very, very worthy cause," McCue said.

Brian Dawson, assistant Hays police chief, said the department has distributed flyers throughout the department and sent reminder emails to encourage staff to participate.

Cathy Younger, Red Cross donor recruitment representative, said she hopes the program yields 254 units of blood. There are eight businesses and organizations in the area contributing to the contest.

"This time of the year, it's very difficult to get enough blood in because so many people are busy with Christmas, holidays, events and going on vacation," Younger said.

Mayor Kent Steward said the blood drive is critical for the health of the community.

"The fact that these emergency personnel are willing to step up and be models for meeting that need is a great thing, and I really applaud them for it," Stewart said.

Approximately 500 blood donations are needed each day in Kansas, and one donation can save three lives.

Those who give blood are entered for a chance to win watches donated by Diamond R Jewelry. The group that wins the contest will be recognized at a Fort Hays State University basketball game in January.

Those who wish to donate can visit the donation center, 208 E. Eighth, between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday. The center is also open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.