Battle of the Badges: Law enforcement engages in a friendly blood drive

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Battle of the Badges will hold its fifth annual blood drive July 20-21. Nancy Upham, left, signs up to donate blood with Whitney Aboytes, centre, and Shannon Perez.

The new round of Battle of the Badges is fast approaching with the winner to reclaim – or perhaps keep – bragging rights in a community blood drive.
The annual badge battle encourages residents to donate blood and then nominate the receiving agency, either the Churchill County Sheriff’s Office or the Fallon Police Department, last year’s champion. This year’s blood drive has been extended to two days, July 20 and 21 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Church of Latter-day Saints, 450 N. Taylor St.
Shannon Perez, one of the organizers, recently spoke to the Rotary Club of Fallon and told members that this was the fifth annual blood draw. Due to community interest, the number of days has been increased from one to two. She said it was one of the biggest blood drives in the area and the hard work paid off.
“Several years ago I started our group which is a support of Ladies Behind the Badge,” said Perez, whose husband is a sergeant in the FPD.
Perez said the group includes spouses, relatives, girl or boy friends who help each other in supporting agents who work for the FPD or CCSO.
“We spend many days together to support each other,” Perez said, citing people employed in law enforcement who work long hours. “We are a great support system.”
Due to the camaraderie that has developed between them over the years, the Ladies Behind the Badge decided to organize a community event to increase community involvement in blood donation. Perez said Ladies Behind the Badge supports Vitalant, formerly known as United Blood Service.
“There is a critical need for donations in our region,” she said. “About 150 pints of blood are needed every day in northern Nevada.”
Perez said Vitalant is a great organization, and that’s why the Ladies Behind the Badge supports the blood service. She noted the urge to draw blood next week. Blood donors will receive a t-shirt and three people will have a chance to win $3,000 gift cards from Vitalant.
In the previous four years, Perez said the competition had been friendly and the winner had emerged with just three to four pints separating first and second place. Last year, Perez said people were turned away because all the slots had been filled.
“Fallon PPD is defending their title and they received a nice trophy,” Perez said.
CCSO also won the blood drive and has a trophy displayed by the department’s main gate.
What started as a friendly rivalry to collect the most blood has also turned into a good support system. Whitney Aboytes said the group was very supportive when her husband, an FPD officer, deployed to Iraq with the Nevada Army National Guard.
Aboytes and Perez mentioned the support the band gave Captain John Frandsen when his wife died.
“We will do anything to help a family,” Aboytes said.
Perez said she had undergone trauma training and helped other members of the group. She said retired DPF leader Kevin Gehman was very supportive of the group’s support.
“If something happens, I don’t want to be alone,” Perez said.
Although the support group is mainly to help the FPD and CCSO, the two ladies said that if other local law enforcement agencies need help, they will be there to provide assistance and establish a support system.
To donate blood, individuals should call 775-329-6451 or go online to donors.vitalant.org and search for blood drive code: FallonBattle.

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