On the ice the Red Deer Rebels have a fierce rivalry with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and for the month of January that heated battle will continue off the ice as well.
The two WHL central division foes will go head-to-head this month in support of Canadian Blood Services, to see who can bring in the most blood donations in January.
“The biggest thing for us is we just want to make sure we are always reminding people that there is a constant need for blood donations because the need itself is always there,” Shaun Richer, territory manager for Canadian Blood Services said.
”We’re coming off of Christmas time, people were busy with holidays and we know that. That doesn’t change the need for blood donations.”
This will be the third season that the Rebels have participated in the initiative against the Hurricanes, something that Richer says helps create real awareness around the need for donations.
“It’s fantastic to have the Rebels support us in this initiative,” he said.
”Local community and local team and it’s nice to have the WHL involved as well because then we are able to challenge the Lethbridge Hurricanes. It’s nice to create that excitement. Especially this time of season. This is a big, huge hockey town.”
Vice president of marketing and sales for the Rebels Dean Williams said the team is happy to help however they can and this challenge is an easy one for the team to get involved with.
“There’s always a need for blood,” Williams said.
“There’s a high demand, with the roads the way they are and everything going on, you never know what’s going to happen and when someone is going to need some blood.”
Evonne Larratt knows the need all too well, as her son Liam is a three time stem-cell recipient.
“I was looking at one of my facebook posts from last year at this time and we were in need of platelets and there was a shortage province wide,” she said.
“They had to pick which children got the platelets. So it really hits home all over again how important it is to get out this time of year and donate and make sure they can make a difference.”
She added that having the Rebels help create awareness for the cause means a lot to her family.
“It is so important for families like us that have had to rely on blood to survive and to have events like this and create awareness is really neat,” Larratt said.
The Rebels and the Hurricanes have held the challenge for the last three seasons, with Red Deer coming out on top in the first two years and last year the two teams tied.