WACO, Texas — Tuesday marked the start of the 6th annual "Battle of the Badges."
It's a competition between Waco police, the Waco Fire Department, and the McLennan County Sheriff's Office to see who can get the most people to give blood.
While it's a fun way to get people to donate, the need for blood is serious. Detective Aaron Whelchel of the Waco Police Department knows firsthand just how important donating blood is.
In 2015, his son was in an accident that left him in serious need of a blood transfusion.
"Something was wrong," Whelchel said. "We knew there was something wrong. And we mentioned it to the nurse that was coming on duty that morning and she looked at him, and she looked at us and she said, 'When was the last time they checked his blood levels?'"
After he began to receive the blood transfusion, everything changed.
"Literally within two minutes, he went from pale as a ghost, lethargic, not really responsive to wide awake, had his color, wanted to eat something, was engaging everybody in the room," he said.
The generosity of other people saved his life.
Now, the police department, along with the fire department and sheriff's office, is teaming up with Carter BloodCare to motivate others to donate.
"Come out, it's not it's not a matter of there's not enough drives and people aren't hosting drives, we just don't have enough donors that are coming out," field recruiter Mike McCoy said.
Donating blood has become friendly competition. When you donate at a Waco-area Carter blood drive between now and Labor Day, you can pick which department to support. Whichever one has the most blood donations in their name at the end will be declared the winner.
"Make it something fun, make it for a great cause, vote for your favorite first responder and come out and help save lives," McCoy said.
It's the sixth year of the competition. The sheriff's office has won five years in a row, but the other teams are feeling confident this year.
"The police department is definitely gonna be winning this year," Waco Police Department public information officer Cierra Shipley said.
Donating just one unit of blood can save the lives of up to three adults or six infants. You never know whose lives those could be.
"The only reason we were able to get him that help was because somebody else that I don't know took the time out of their day to go and donate blood," Whelchel said of his son.
Tuesday, Carter collected roughly 55 units, but hopes by the end of the competition, they'll have 800 to 900.