Pints Before Gallons

“Giving blood at our blood drive is convenient, it’s easy, it saves lives and it’s the right thing to do.”

– Walt Muralt, president of
Muralt’s Travel Plaza

For the sixth consecutive year, Muralt’s Travel Plaza in Missoula, Mont., collected the most blood in the nation in NATSO’s annual Drive to Save Lives blood drive.

Five hundred fifty-one units of blood were collected at Muralt’s, an AMBEST and Conoco truckstop located at the Junction of I-90 and US Highway 93N, Exit 96. The total sets a new state record. The previous record was 531 units of blood established in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 tragedies.

“Blood supplies are always low this time of year, and Muralt’s blood drive significantly helps to replenish blood to the region’s hospitals and medical community,” says Sherrie Adolphson of the American Red Cross. “An average successful blood drive will produce 30-35 units of blood for our supply, so 551 units is a huge addition to our yearly collections. Each unit of blood can help save up to three lives.”

“We are encouraged by the number of first-time donors the Muralt’s drive generates for the community supply,” says Rebecca Morley, donor services supervisor for the American Red Cross. “Our partnership with Muralt’s and its business neighbors is heartwarming and greatly appreciated.”

Additional Red Cross staff from Libby, Helena, Kalispell and Bozeman traveled to Missoula to assist the local Red Cross staff. Both a blood mobile and several rooms on the second floor of the truckstop were used for the drive.

“Our aggressive goal of 550 units seemed impossible after a slow start the first part of the week,” says Cindy Northey, Muralt’s drive coordinator. “We received overwhelming support from our business partners, neighbors, customers, friends, families and the entire Missoula community. We give a special credit to Missoula’s radio stations, television stations and newspaper who were especially enthusiastic about getting the word out and actively recruiting the public to participate.”

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Toni Wallace, coordinator for Jim Palmer Trucking, Judy Staiger, coordinator for Watkins & Shepard, and Joe Gollette, coordinator for Trucker’s Express, all supported the effort by allowing employees the time needed to make their donations. First Security Bank, BFI, Missoula Cartage, Sammons Trucking, Davis Transport, Missoula Freightliner, Payne Financial Group, P & S Fabricators and the University of Montana Men’s Basketball Team were major contributors to the drive.

The business with the largest percentage of employees donating blood was P & S Fabricators for the sixth consecutive year.

“Our guys step up every year to participate and appreciate our support for the time allowed them to donate,” says Jeff Hall, P & S’s coordinator.

“Our employees take a lot of pride in being part of Muralt’s blood drive each year,” says Pat Haffner, P & S owner. “We are eager to support their effort with our donation of blood and time.” A plaque and a catered lunch from Muralt’s Cafe will be provided to the P & S Fabricator employees who participated.

A trophy for the largest number of employees to donate blood from a company with less than 100 employees will be awarded to BFI for the third year. Chad Bauer, BFI’s blood drive coordinator, encouraged 52 out of 63 employees, and also employee family members, to donate. Several employee spouses and at least one parent also donated.

For the last three years Muralt’s Travel Plaza’s efforts received the NATSO “Award of Merit” for its success in the blood drives. Nationally, NATSO’s Drive to Save Lives has collected over 40,000 units of blood since it’s inception in 1993.

“It’s a little known fact that America’s truckstops and travel plazas are the nation’s No. 1 source of donated blood – and that Muralt’s Travel Plaza is the most successful blood drive in our industry,” says Bill Fay, president of the NATSO Foundation. “With the Red Cross reporting that blood donations have plummeted 17 percent this year, the importance of these drives cannot be overstated. It’s my sincere hope that every truckstop in America will strive for the success we see year after year in Missoula.”

This is the 10th year the Drive to Save Lives has been conducted at Muralt’s Travel Plaza. “Giving blood at our blood drive is convenient, it’s easy, it saves lives and it’s the right thing to do,” says Walt Muralt, president of Muralt’s Travel Plaza. “If we all expect to receive blood immediately when we need it, then more of us need to donate blood on a regular basis. We at Muralt’s Travel Plaza are just doing our part to increase the number of donations, donors and awareness of donating blood. Besides, we all are having a great time hosting this blood drive each year.

“We always say that as a truckstop this is the one time of the year that pints are more important to us than gallons,” Muralt says.