The new “Bloodlines” soccer jerseys worn by Vancouver Whitecaps FC fit well with a Surrey man’s long-established campaign to urge more people to donate blood.
The MLS franchise revealed new TELUS-logo’d “kits” Thursday (Feb. 16) as part of a four-year deal with the tele-com company, and also announced a partnership with Canadian Blood Services that encourages fans to donate and help save lives.
Front and centre in the campaign is Joban Bal, founder of One Blood For Life Foundation, a non-profit organization. Since his days at Tamanawis Secondary in 2014, Bal has rallied university and high school students from across the Lower Mainland to promote blood and stem cell donations.
Now a UBC medical student well on his way to becoming a doctor, Bal cheers the Caps’ high-profile campaign.
“Our group is really trying to encourage youth to donate – young, healthy people to become first-time donors and eventually become regular, lifetime donors of blood, so this campaign by the Whitecaps helps that,” said Bal, featured in a photo on whitecapsfc.com/bloodlines.
The new jerseys will be worn during the team’s season-opener Saturday, Feb. 25 at BC Place, against Real Salt Lake.
Bal aims to be in the stadium that day with others involved in the campaign, including three recipients of blood and blood products.
Among them is Markus Milcik, who was born at Surrey Memorial Hospital on Nov. 10, 2014. “After a day and a half, he slipped into a coma and started having seizures,” the Whitecaps say in a news release.
“No one at the hospital knew what was going on so he was transferred over to BC Children’s Hospital where he was diagnosed with a metabolic disorder called ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency (OTC Deficiency). Markus was told that he did not have long to live. After five days of blood transfusions and hemodialysis and a liver transplant, he is now a healthy, silly, energetic, charismatic, and thriving eight-year-old.”
Such stories are key to the Whitecaps’ campaign, which urges fans “to join in giving back to those who need it most.”
From now until March 31, fans can register for an account on the Canadian Blood Services app GiveBlood (myaccount.blood.ca) and show it at a home match at BC Place to receive free personalized cresting (name and number) on a 2023 Bloodlines jersey.
Bal backs Canadian Blood Services’ pledge-based Partners for Life (PFL) program, which involves teams of donors. The group of 430 volunteers has donated and recruited donors who have contributed more than 3,650 units of blood and registered 1,760 new stem-cell donation registrants.
“We’re doing another event in Surrey, at the Guildford clinic on Family Day weekend, Sunday,” Bal explained. “We work to address gaps in the appointment bookings, so we’ll be outdoors doing a flash-mob kind of thing where we encourage people to donate, for the love of family, for the love of others, that kind of thing – giving the gift of life.”
Gayle Voyer, associate director of donor relations with Canadian Blood Services, said that with a need for more than 100,000 new donors in Canada this year “to keep up with demand,” the Whitecaps partnership “presents an incredible opportunity to make a lasting impact.
The team’s “Bloodlines” jersey, she said, “is not just a piece of clothing, but represents a challenge to football fans to make a positive impact on their community.”
Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter