Today, hundreds of people gathered at Michigan Speedway for one of the biggest blood drives of the year on the 19th anniversary of September 11th.
For New York native, and now Michigan firefighter Jan Ganzel, the day is deeply personal.
“I was on the job here, and heard about it, and wanted to do my part to help. I lost half a dozen friends I grew up with in high school on that day,” said Ganzel.
So today, he honors the friends he lost, friends like Stephen Siller who lost his own life saving others.
“He had just gotten off duty, and was on his way home. He was actually about to go play golf with his brothers, and when he heard of the first plane attacking or hitting the tower, he didn’t know it was an attack yet. He grabbed his gear, called his wife, said I’m not going to make it home. I’m going back in,” said Ganzel.
Other donors say, they came because giving back is one of the best things to do to honor, and remember those who were lost.
“I know it’s not for everybody to donate blood, but if you can it’s worth it to save a life, or more than one life,” said Donor Douglas Miller.
Organizers say there is an even greater need this year.
“Blood donations have been very difficult throughout the summer. Summer is a hard time for us to get blood donations in general, but then with a pandemic less organizations are hosting blood drives, and less donors have been coming out,” said Regional Manager of Donor Recruitment for Versiti Blood Center, Michigan, Heidi Seitz.
Ganzel says, seeing the support today reminds him of the days the country came together in the days following the attacks.
“I like to remember what happened on the 12th the 13th the 14th. We came together as a country, and to see people coming out like this every year is just an amazing feeling.”
For ways to donate visit https://www.versiti.org/home