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MIAMI EQUESTRIAN TEAM SADDLES UP FOR SNOWY BLOOD DRIVE

February 10, 2021

OXFORD, Ohio - Snow blanketed the Miami University campus Feb. 9 as the Armstrong Student Center hosted the first blood drive of the spring semester. Despite a one-hour weather delay as students negotiated snow piles and the return of more in-person classes, the sponsoring MU Equestrian Team was ready to ride to the rescue.

MUET is a frequent sponsor for Community Blood Center. COVID-19 precautions have restricted volunteering at the blood drives, but members helped with recruiting and signed up to donate. Tuesday's blood drive topped 114% of goal with 68 donors, including 13 first-time donors.

"It's for the team!" said MUET donor Sarah Forman, a senior from Cincinnati. She was joined by team member Carol Frye, a senior from Branford, Connecticut.  Both are micro-biology majors who share a passion for horseback riding and donating.

"I like donating, and it's really convenient," said Carol. "My high school did blood drives where I was able to donate, and the Equestrian Team always sponsors blood drives."

The nationally recognized MUET club team has about 100 riders at all levels who practice and compete in the disciplines of Dressage, Hunt Seat, and Western.

Like many campus activities, riding has been suspended during the pandemic.  The horses roamed idly at the snow-covered Equestrian Center while a handful of students used plastic sheets to sled down a nearby hill.

"We're not competing this year," said Sarah. "Hopefully next fall. I like to practice and love to compete."

The pandemic impacted but did not stop Miami blood drives.  Despite cancellations in the spring and limitations in the fall, Miami held eight blood drives in 2020 with only a 29% decline in collections.

Miami is CBC's longest-standing blood drive partner, dating back to the first Greek Week Blood Drive in 1978.  Up until the pandemic, it was CBC's largest blood drive. The September 2020 blood drive was down 60% but the tradition carried on for the 42nd year.

Students returned to campus Jan. 20 with optimism for campus life becoming more "normal" as winter turns to spring. "I've kind of adjusted to online classes," said donor Grace Berry, a sophomore from Columbus.

Madison Janky, a sophomore marketing major from Centerville, donates on campus and at the Dayton CBC.  "I only have one in-person class today, and it was actually cancelled as a 'snow day,'" said Madison. "It's a lot different with online classes."

A trend at Miami is to see women students, sororities and organization leading the support for blood drives. At Tuesday's blood drives female donors outnumbered males by a three-to-one ratio.

Jessica Schneider, an education major from Cleveland made her fifth lifetime donation. "My dad gave blood when I was little all the time,' said Jessica, a type O donor. "It's easy and I realize I have good blood!"

Connor Mullaly, a senior political science major from Brighton, Michigan also made his milestone fifth lifetime donation. "It's easy and it doesn't take a whole lot of effort on my part," said Connor. He's a Residence Advisor, and a triathlete who hasn't been able to compete since before the pandemic.

"I get to feel good about myself and eat lots of cookies afterwards," he said about his dedication to Mimi blood drives. "It also gives me a good excuse to take a night off from the pool!"