What to expect from the ‘Save a Life’ Home Opener

What to expect from the ‘Save a Life’ Home Opener

“Swab up. Save a Life” 

That was the message from Tom Stockting at Wednesday afternoon's press conference as he announced Atlético Ottawa’s partnership with Canadian Blood Services for the ‘Save a Life’ Home Opener on April 13th. 

Canadian Blood Services is a not-for-profit healthcare system which provides blood, plasma and transfusion and stem cell registry services on behalf of almost all provinces and territories.

Supporters attending the inaugural match of the 2024 CPL season between Atlético Ottawa and York United FC will be encouraged and aided by volunteers lining the TD Place central concourse to sign up for the Canadian Blood Services registry. Every name on the registry has the potential for a stem-cell transplant which may save the life of a fellow Canadian.

When a patient undergoes a stem cell transplant, it is often their last hope of survival.

“It’s a simple swabbing of the cheek and a registration that can potentially save someone's life," said Ron Vezina, Vice-President of Public Affairs with Canadian Blood Services. “We’re looking for more people to get engaged, and we’re looking for eligible donors…These are precious gifts that help save lives.”

There are currently over 1000 patients on wait lists today in Canada looking for life-saving stem cell transplants. Canadian Blood Services estimates that every 60 seconds a Canadian needs blood.

According to the Canadian Blood Services, the whole process should take less than five minutes, ensuring you won’t miss much of the action.

“We know that there's a lot of pride in our city, a lot of pride in our sports organizations, and I think that fans of the beautiful game will come through and send us to the next level,” Ron Vezina concluded. 

According to Tom, the target registrants is set at 100 new potential donors from matchdays. “I think it's a very doable number, so let's aim to do what we’ve done every year and smash that,” Tom said. 

Tom was one of six new donors from Atlético Ottawa head office who joined the register. CEO Fernando López shared that he plans to sign up to the registry on game day, and hopes a large portion of the players and coaching staff will also be participating… just not on matchday!

“This is a collective effort and we should be the first ones demonstrating our support,” Lopez said. “This is not just a facade. This is all of us. Our front office is 90% already donated. I’m hoping a big portion of the players and the staff, coaches can donate as well.”

This was a sentiment echoed by President and Strategic Partner Jeff Hunt, who also shared how pleased he is that the club has championed a different important cause at every one of the past four home openers.

“I think it's important too that pro sports teams do more than just play their chosen sport. Doing these things in the community isn't just a nice thing to do, we have this pedestal and to start the year with a real community focus is what we want to be all about.”

Shifting focus to the opening match itself, Fernando shared his expectations for opening day, which included expectations of a big and “electric” crowd.

“Opening day is always about high hopes, high energy and great expectations…I’m hoping for a win to start the season on the right foot," Fernando said. “We’ve been waiting for five months so just have a good time. Come with the family. We are supporting a good cause, so let's try to have fun.”

For more information on stem cell donations or blood donations and to check if you’re eligible, head to www.blood.ca/stemcells.

About Ben

Ben Ralph is a die-hard football fan and a journalism student at Carleton. He has been supporting Everton through the ups and downs (but mostly the downs) and could not believe his luck when he stumbled across Atlético Ottawa in 2021. Now part of the Atleti faithful, his dream has always been to write football stories, and he is excited to join other fans as writers for CCSG. His football journalist idols are Adam Hurrey, James Richardson, and Charlie Eccleshare from The Football Cliches Podcast.

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