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Leander, Cedar Park council members spur on blood donations

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Elected officials from Cedar Park and Leander competed in a friendly competition last week, each seeking to raise blood donations for a drive to help save lives.

Cedar Park Council Member Mel Kirkland and Leander Council Member Christine Sederquist were the force behind the drive, called the Cedar Park/Leander Challenge for Life.

Sederquist announced the results at the close of last Thursday's Leander City Council meeting, telling attendees and her fellow council members that Leander received 32 donations — besting Cedar Park's 23 donations. 

Sederquist's team collected donations in a parking lot near Leander's Fire Station No. 3 and Kirkland's team collected donations near Cedar Park City Hall. 

Locals had signed up online to donate blood, but anyone who wanted to donate could do so as a walk-in.

Buses from WeAreBlood, a Central Texas non-profit that provides blood to over 40 different hospitals and clinics, were situated outside both locations. Inside the buses were miniature medical facilities containing multiple staff available to draw blood. Inside, reclined chairs built into the sides of the bus marked where donors could seat themselves during the procedure.

Outside the Leander bus, a day before the results were in, Sederquist stood in the 90-degree Texas heat greeting donors coming from and boarding the bus. Sederquist said that she was confident that she had received enough donations to beat Kirkland.

“We are winning by a lot. It’s rare that Leander beats Cedar Park at anything, so I’m super ecstatic,” Sederquist said.

The competition between the two council members began months ago with Kirkland challenging Sederquist. However, preparations for the drives began in earnest on March 21 after a proclamation in the Leander City Council brought by Mayor Troy Hill, recognizing the month as Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month.

In her closing comments, according to a video of the meeting, Sederquist spoke about the challenge and encouraged the council to begin preparations.

The reason for Thursday’s outcome came, at least partly, due to time. Sederquist was able to extend the length of her drive to six hours, while Kirkland had only four. Sederquist said staffing issues prevented Kirkland from extending his time.

“She had more time,” Kirkland said. “By them having a few more hours than us, I guess I have to concede that, yes, they should have the ability to beat us,” he said.

Regardless of the informal, friendly battle between the two cities, the event was a success for WeAreBlood and community health in general. “The blood drives were an inspiring success,” said Nick Canedo, Vice President of Community Engagement at WeAreBlood.

“We'd like to help host more drives with them again regularly,” Canedo said.

WeAreBlood allows for any group to host their own blood drives with the company, and Canedo said that they provide a bus or equipment for the inside of an available space.

During her closing comments at last Thursday's council meeting, Sederquist spoke about the bigger picture of the event.

“A lot of times we’re up here, and all we hear are negative things. The emails that we get and things that we read, and even some of our behind the scenes stuff, and to go out today and spend the day, where residents from all over town and staff and everybody is putting aside their differences and just coming together to do good was amazing and humbling,” she said.

In a Facebook post on Sederquist’s page announcing the results, the end of the post read: “Mel, Leander will be happy to take you guys on and bring our A-game anytime.”

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