Barb Newman knew her sister was dying but noticed an improvement when she got a dose of new blood.
Mary had terminal bone cancer. The blood transfusions she received became a crucial part of her final months. Her quality of life improved and she became more responsive.
"She got a really nice glow to her. She was able to laugh with her family and friends who were gathered around her bed. It really made a huge difference in her life," Newman said Thursday.
Mary's death in 2008 inspired Newman to start a partners-for-life campaign with her co-workers. The 20-odd employees have donated nearly 80 litres of blood since then - nearly 50 from Newman alone.
"It's a simple ask. Ask a co-worker to join a partners-for-life program, ask a friend. If you're in a tough situation and someone asks what can they do to help, ask them to donate blood," she said.
Newman told her story at the launch of another blood-donation challenge between Kelowna and Prince George. The Kelowna blood-donor clinic hopes to collect 1,856 donations to take back the title it surrendered to Prince George last year.
The clinic vows to attract 152 new donors. Dignitaries like Kelowna Rockets Coach Ryan Huska, Mayor Walter Gray and councillors Maxine DeHart and Luke Stack rolled up their sleeves Thursday to show it's not that hard.
Gray calls it a "life-giving gift only you can give."
"Why not do it in advance? Then maybe if you have misfortune and require blood down the road, then you've already at least pre-paid part of the gift you're going to get from someone else," he said at the launch.
Often quick with a joke, Gray said he's confident Kelowna will retrieve the title this year and pointed to Rocky the Rockets' mascot as a good sign.
"We know (Kelowna) will beat Prince George and we'll see a lot of blood on the ice, Rocky."
The 16th Interior Drive for Life campaign runs eight weeks until Halloween, two weeks longer than previous years. This year's drive will focus on cancer patients who receive blood during their treatments.
Larry Davies, 57, was among the first to donate a pint of blood Thursday, something he does twice a year. He usually thinks of his dad when he gives.
"He used to give out blood all the time. I always think that when I come down," Davies said.
Summer tends to be the slowest time of year for donations. The weather's good and people sometimes forget about their appointments, said Robin Castle, who takes blood from people three days a week.
"It's unfortunate because there's a lot of accidents during the summer and a lot of need for blood year round."
The clinic is open every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and every other Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To make an appointment, visit blood.ca or call