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You know you have a winning event when you can pull a tax auditor from her work at Revenue Canada and induce her to get blood from her arm instead of trying to pull blood from a stone.

Elizabeth, no last name given, was one of the scores of workers from the area around Air Canada Centre to donate her blood in the Big Save event at Air Canada Centre, Monday.

"It’s just the right thing to do. I have no particular story," she said. "Sorry."

But there were stories by the boatload at the event, heavily peopled by MLSE employees.

"Every story is a great story here," said Charmaine Lodge,the Canadian Blood Services’ (CBS) director of donor clinic services for Central Ontario. "For example, we have some recipients here today who required blood in order to survive. We have a young man who required platelet transfusions. That’s just what we do on a day to day basis."

Recruiting new donors is the central mission of the CBS. ‘It’s easier to maintain five existing donors than bring in one new one," she said.

"This is the first time," said Craig Downey, manager of media relations. "I think it’s a great opportunity in our building to donate blood. My mother needed blood a couple of weeks ago so it kind of put things in perspective. My sister and my wife have given blood on numerous occasions so I thought it was about time that I did."

Like so many others, Downey said he never found the impetus in his life to donate.

"I just think it was one of those things you felt you were busy and you let it pass by. Now I see the importance of giving back."

Six of the top 20 blood consuming hospitals are in Toronto and while 3.7 of Canadians donate, that number falls to 1.8 for Torontonians.

"All of us have family who have been through medical situations," said Chief Operating Officer Tom Anselmi. "All of us have stories. That’s why we as a company wanted to become involved. We wanted to encourage others to help."

Lodge lauded the choice of Air Canada Centre because the building would attract fans and draw donors from the concrete canyons .

"Our choice for clinic is where our donors are," she said "As for our first-time donor per centage, it could be five per cent, it could be 20 per cent. "

By the dinner hour, the event had attracted about 350 donors and organizers were hoping to smash the existing record of 477 set by Winnipegers in March 2010.
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