By Lt. Col.-Retired Mike Byrd, U.S. Army

The annual blood drive at Van Horn High School was a great success! According to information provided by the Community Blood Center, 59 first time donors participated, 92 individuals showed up to donate, 128 individuals scheduled appointments in an effort to donate and Van Horn exceeded its assigned donation goal by collecting 69 units of blood.

Each year the Army JROTC cadet battalion staff as an exercise in active leadership, coordinates with CBC officials to operate a day-long school-based blood drive. The event serves as a “real world” project which involves and reinforces multiple learning objectives for JROTC; volunteerism, active good citizenship, selfless act on behalf of another, effective use of the staff planning process, supervising/leading a project to mission accomplishment, etc.

This year's blood drive had its own special challenges which had to be overcome; severe snowy weather caused a date change due to school closure on the original date, an extremely high rate of seasonal illnesses and absenteeism due to sickness.

If you happen to be someone who does not think the future of our community is bright or who thinks today's youth aren't capable of achievement; I offer you this to think about, maybe you haven't spent enough time working with young people, helping them mature and achieve the confidence necessary to excel. I am proud of how the students and cadets at Van Horn worked to ensure the success of this community focused initiative. It would have been easy to simply cancel the blood donation day.

Regardless of these and other challenges, the students and cadets of the JROTC program at Van Horn High School ensured they did their part by donating a total of 69 units – 5 more than the assigned goal – Mission success! Falcons lead the way!