Imagine winning a brand-new car just for donating blood. In this episode, we travel across Puget Sound to Bremerton, Washington and talk to the staff at Haselwood Auto Group who are partnering with Bloodworks Northwest on a unique promotion – a new car giveaway. But there’s more to the story than that – a lot more.
Listen below or read on for a full transcript.
“There’s never a wrong time to do the right thing” is how Peter Lavitt, marketing director at #HaselwoodAutoGroup, put it. In next Bloodworks 101 episode, we travel to #Bremerton to talk to our latest community partner about why it’s more than winning a car. #revitup pic.twitter.com/5h6ANn3ROm— Bloodworks Northwest 🩸 (@BloodworksNW) March 13, 2020
Peter: My heart was racing and I wasn’t sure why, and by the time I got to work, when the Medic One came, they said that my heart rate was 184 beats a minute.
John: Hi, I’m John Yeager. And this is “Bloodworks 101,” a monthly podcast brought to you by the folks here at Bloodworks Northwest designed to educate and inspire you to give time, money, or blood. If you’ve been keeping track of what we’re up to here at Bloodworks Northwest, you know about the new car giveaway. For the last few weeks, we’ve had a promotion that’ll mean one lucky donor will win a brand new car just by donating a unit of blood. Simple. The response to this promotion so far has been incredible. People are making appointments, walking in, rolling up their sleeves and donating blood and by doing so, they put their name in the hat for a drawing with a big payout, a brand new car from the Haselwood Auto Group in Bremerton. You actually get your choice of nine new cars. But this podcast episode isn’t about your choice of nine new cars, it’s really about the guy behind the idea to grab your attention. And it’s about some of the folks on staff at Haselwood. That’s where this story took some turns I wasn’t expecting. First things first, meet Mark Gilman.
Mark: My name’s Mark Gilman. I own a business called Degree 37. We build mobile apps and customer relationship management software.
John: Mark’s company built the new Bloodworks mobile app. He says he came up with what he considers the crazy idea last summer to give away a new car.
Mark: We started looking at the challenges that our client and partner Bloodworks had regarding trying to stimulate people to start donating blood. There was a need to get more people in the blood supply and do it more frequently. And we couldn’t think of a better way that we might be able to catch people’s attention and maybe get them to donate for the first time by offering a car giveaway.
John: I asked Mark Gilman if giving away a car might be a little over the top. I mean, people should want to give blood because it’s the right thing to do, right?
Mark: I wouldn’t look at it that way. I’d look at it like any other type of marketing opportunity. There’s a lot of noise out there, and there’s a lot of things that people can be donating or giving their time to. And there’s really a need to create awareness on the need for giving blood. We find that most people, once they become knowledgeable, the fact of they can give blood, the impact it has on another human being that they are altruistic and they give for those reasons. But we just need to have something to cut through the clutter and actually maybe have somebody consider to give for the first time. We thought the car giveaway would be a perfect way to cut through the noise and have something exciting that somebody says, “Wow, a car giveaway? And all I gotta do is go give blood? Maybe I’ll go do that for the first time.”
John: More on Mark a little bit later. Right now, I want you to meet Peter Lavitt. He’s the marketing director at the Haselwood Auto Group in Bremerton. So, Peter, how did you get involved with this new car giveaway with Bloodworks?
Peter: I was approached by Mark Gilman who works for Bloodworks Northwest, and he was looking for a sponsor to support a blood drive in the first quarter of 2020. And I thought that was intriguing being a blood donor myself that it was a good cause to get involved with. So, I took it to the owner and the owner agreed with me. We believe that supporting great causes like Bloodworks and others that we do within the community is the right thing to do. As I think the COO of the company said recently, “There’s never a wrong time to do the right thing.” And we agree with that.
John: So, what’s your story? Why is that so important to you? Why is blood donation such an important issue to you?
Peter: That’s an interesting question. I guess, you know, it was about five years ago, I had gone to work. It was a regular day. Didn’t think anything different than any other day. And my heart was racing and I wasn’t sure why. And by the time I got to work, my heart was racing considerably fast. And so, I called the aid car, and when the Medic One came, they said that my heart rate was 184 beats a minute. And they said I was in AFib and I didn’t know anything about that. So, they took me to Valley Medical Center. They gave me some drugs to slow my heart rate down, but they couldn’t get a normal sinus rhythm. So, they kept me overnight in the cardiac ward.
And I was laying there all night and I kept hearing the alarms going off for all the other rooms around me. And I really started to think about all of these people that needed something and, you know, in the state that they were in. And to be quite honest, I’d always been selfish about giving blood. I’d never thought it was something that I would do. When I was younger I thought to myself, “Why would I ever give blood? You know, it’s my blood.” But that night in the hospital really brought home to me the importance of being a little bit selfless and, you know, what can I do that would make a difference? And giving blood is so easy. You know, it takes such little time to, you know, make a huge result and an impact in a way that you really don’t miss in the end.
John: A lot of people have a hard time personalizing it. You know, they say, “I give blood, well, I don’t know where it goes, and I don’t know what it does.” But you can do more than imagine about that, can’t you?
Peter: Yeah. You know, once I started going through the process, I really realized that I was making a big impact when I go into the Bloodworks blood centers and I see all the gold and silver leaves on the wall and realize that there are so many people before me that has given so much blood over the years. And then, you know, just recently in May of 2019, my mother had called me, and she was a missionary in Nicaragua for 18 years, and she told me that she thought she had a heart condition only to find out that what she was suffering from was myelodysplastic syndrome, which is akin to leukemia. And it is a blood cancer and that she was going to need multiple blood transfusions to keep her going. And it really struck me again just how important the life-saving, you know, nectar that we have within our bodies really is to people that are in need. Unfortunately, within four months she succumbed to the disease and died in September. But nevertheless, within that time she had five, six, or seven blood transfusions over that period of time. And you know, so, I do realize and personalize the giving of blood.
John: Do you think that may have bought her some time?
Peter: It definitely did. Certainly, without the blood that she needed, she would have succumbed to the illness very quickly. With myelodysplastic syndrome, the problem is that her body’s not making enough red, white, and platelet cells in the bone marrow. And so, you know, every drop that she got was a little bit extra time.
John: It’s remarkable when I’m talking to these people, you know, many people for this podcast, the many backgrounds that they come from, the many stories that they have. You know, we’re here at a car dealership and it’s a blood drive and it really does touch everybody’s life, doesn’t it?
Peter: Well, here at the Haselwood Auto Group in Bremerton, we’re 700-plus strong, and we know that there’s so many backgrounds here within our own community. We’re the number one largest retail employer in the Kitsap Peninsula. And we know that the folks that are part of our team, you know, come from military backgrounds and other backgrounds where, you know, they’re impacted every day as most communities are within their own personal, you know, life events. You know, whether it’s a birth, a death, you know, an illness you know, our multitudes make up a good cross-section of society. And so, we know that, you know, the person sitting next to us could be dealing with something very dramatic and in need of blood.
John: So, how does this contest work? Can you unpack it for us?
Peter: Yeah, I think so. Basically, all you need to do is enroll in giving blood between now and March 17th. And in that time, when you donate blood, you’re enrolled through Bloodworks Northwest and eligible…entered to win a car. There’s nine vehicles, one from each brand that we carry that you can choose from. So, if you’re the winner of the vehicle, then you’ll get to pick from those nine vehicles the car of your choice and, you know, Bloodworks will give you the car.
John: I can’t wait until that happens. I mean, you’re gonna see somebody who’s gonna say, “I gave blood and as a result, I get a new car.”
Peter: Yeah. It’s pretty exciting. You know, I was actually surprised when I first started going into the Bloodworks center near my house. I’d been giving blood for quite a while. And one day I went in and they wanted to give me a water bottle, and then there was a chocolate bar, and then there was a certificate for beer from the local brewery. And I was really scratching my head because, you know, at first it didn’t make sense to me. It’s like, “I came here to selflessly give blood and I’m getting something in return.” And then it made total sense to me, it was basically a thank you for taking my time to do something for the community that was, you know, a selfless act and getting more people to be aware of the need for blood every single day really emphasizes a great opportunity to give something back to one lucky person at a time. Sometimes it seems that Bloodworks has smaller gifts to give to a lot of people. In this instance, one lucky person is going to win a car, and that’s really exciting.
John: And it could be you. You know, somebody listening out there, it’s like, you know, “Somebody’s gonna win it.”
Peter: Somebody definitely is. We can’t wait to see what they pick and we can’t wait to see the smile on their face when they come in to get the car.
John: Thanks a lot. Is there anything I haven’t asked you?
Peter: No, I think that we’ve covered everything. I just wanna, you know, again, say if you have never given blood, please do so. You know, it’s something that none of us really consider until we’re in need ourselves, which was the case for me. I think that it’s something that you will find as very rewarding in your own personal life when you give of yourself.
John: You’re listening to “Bloodworks 101.” We’ll be right back.
Ronson: Hey, this is Ronson, Bloodworks Northwest. Our friends at the Haselwood Auto Group take pride in aiding our community. They consider it a privilege to assist organizations and individuals as they improve our world and make a difference in the lives of others. Here are a few of the many ways in which Haselwood Auto Group is giving back. Helping these local non-profits is their humble way of saying thank you. The Admiral Theatre, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Haselwood YMCA, the Bremerton Ice Center, the U.S. PGA Amateur, and the West Hills Baseball Club. Thanks for listening.
John: You’re listening to “Bloodworks 101.” I’m your host, John Yeager. Remember that surprising turn I told you this story would take? Well, you heard a little bit of it when we talked to Peter Lavitt. Now, I want you to meet a guy named Rob Colon at Haselwood Auto Group in Bremerton. Rob, as you’ll hear, was joking around at first when I interviewed him recently, but all that changed when the topic of his wife’s health came up.
Rob: Hello, can you hear me? Can you hear me now? It’s a Verizon commercial. Do you want me to speak louder? Do you want me to speak softer? I only have one voice. I can’t help you with that. It’s not quite as cool as yours. You do have that news voice for sure.
John: That’s right. All right. Tell me who we are and what you do?
Rob: I’m Rob Colon. I’m the chief operating officer at Haselwood Auto Group. We own eight dealerships in Kitsap County in Bremerton, Washington.
John: Rob says, regardless whether we all agree that blood donation is a good thing to do, we all live in what Rob calls an incentive-based culture.
Rob: You see it with 0% advertising or employee pricing or Black Friday pricing and that tends to move the market. And if donations aren’t at an optimum level, sometimes an incentive is what it takes to create the awareness that is going to get people back into the donation centers to give. And you know, there’s a large percentage of them that we are hoping continue to give, whether there’s incentive or not once they realize it’s really not a complicated process.
John: What you’re going through right now has got to change your perspective on the ability to give selflessly to others.
Rob: Well, my wife has been battling breast cancer for the last 15 years, nearly 16. And she’s a patient at SCCA or Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. And we have been there at least once a month for the last 15 years. And when you see people who are in need, who are desperate to find an answer or to find a solution to a problem, it really does put in perspective what a simple donation like blood can be. It doesn’t necessarily cure cancer, but there’s a lot of people that may be involved in a traumatic accident or may experience for whatever reason massive blood loss and if we don’t have the reserves available for those people, they go untreated. And I know what that look on someone’s face is.
And I can tell you that as an organization, we like to partner within the community where we can see the most positive impact from those efforts and where we can reach the most people in a positive way because that’s one thing that will leave a mark for the future. And people will always have a need and if we can be involved in that, it makes a lot more sense to us than any other type of marketing effort or any other type of partnerships that we get involved with because it ends up doing good for everyone. We’re all affected in a positive way.
John: Anything else I haven’t asked you? This is, you know, more than I expected.
Rob: We’re just really happy to be invited to be partners with Bloodworks on this. And to do good for the community, it’s our number one goal in all that we do. Our purpose statement is creating remarkable experiences for each other and our communities with integrity, respect, and loyalty. And we really feel like this partnership matches that purpose statement perfectly. And so, we’re very grateful to have the opportunity to participate, and we can’t wait to see what the results are gonna be.
John: There’s someone else who can’t wait to see what the results are gonna be, Mark Gilman. Remember I said we’d get back to Mark. Well, you may not know this, but before helping Bloodworks Northwest out with the new mobile app in this promotion, Mark Gilman was a corporate leader in some of the nation’s biggest companies: Blockbuster, Walmart, and McDonald’s. Mark Gilman is doing this because he feels called to make an impact in the fight to sustain an adequate national blood supply. To Mark Gilman, this is way more than just a crazy idea. He hopes it’s educational.
Mark: We think that a big part of this promotion is going to be very educational. People that have given before, maybe the promotion and the way it’s handled and the educational way in which we’ll communicate to the people that hear our message, we can get that educational piece out there to help them really understand the human impact they’re having by donating. We’re already seeing, with other things that we’ve done, a good response rate from those people that gave once and we haven’t seen them come back. We think this is going to be that one big thing that’ll get a lot of them back in.
John: By the way, Mark and his wife, Debbie, were instrumental in getting an orphanage for girls and young women started in Thailand a few years ago. And Mark tells me he and his wife have also started and still operate two primary and secondary schools in Ghana serving 1,000 students at each school. Anyway, that’s just about it for this episode of “Bloodworks 101.” Please share this episode and tell your friends. And if you haven’t donated yet, the new car giveaway goes on from now until March 17th. I’m John Yeager for “Bloodworks 101.” See you next time.