Roll Tide, War Eagle, Give Blood

Published 12:25 pm Sunday, November 8, 2009

Cel Etheredge has a remarkable talent.

She can bring Alabama and Auburn fans together for a great cause: giving blood.

For the 26th year, Etheredge, 96, will host her annual Alabama-Auburn Blood Drive on Nov. 13 from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

This year’s drive will be at the Holiday Inn Express at 260 Cahaba Valley Road in Pelham.

While her 26 years of service to the blood donation wing of the Red Cross seems amazing, it pales in comparison to her 73 years of volunteer service with the organization.

In the middle of two World Wars, the nation needed volunteer help, and Etheredge and her younger sister, Mary Ann, answered the call.

Almost 50 years later, Etheredge’s help was once again needed, this time in Shelby County, and once again she answered the call.

With the county facing blood shortages, the Red Cross needed something to spark donations, and Etheredge had the perfect plan: a competition between Alabama and Auburn fans.

Etheredge began by mapping out the county and going to every town and corner of Shelby County.

In just the first year, the drive drew 30 donors.

“It just grew from there,” Etheredge said. “We worked hard at it.”

Last year, the drive collected more than 100 donations.

And although the drive lasts 12 hours and Etheredge is just two months from her 97th birthday, she’s there to work every second.

“My doctor said, ‘You are not going to work the whole time,’ and I told him, ‘You want to bet?’” Etheredge said. “I have to work; that’s my blood drive.”

Shelby County Red Cross Account Manager Ryan Sherman said the drive is indeed Etheredge’s.

“Her impact in Shelby County has been amazing,” Sherman said. “She is a vital part of what we do in Shelby County. We couldn’t do what we do in Shelby County without her.”

And even at 96, Etheredge, who has had four blood transfusions herself, has no plans of stopping her pursuit of ending a blood shortage.

“I don’t want to quit,” Etheredge said. “It’s just determination.”

For more information about Friday’s blood drive, call 1-800-448-3543. To schedule an appointment, go to and enter the sponsor code “football.”