CHICAGO (WLS) -- Data shows that more than 90 percent of the world's population will need blood in their lifetime, yet only 3 percent donate. A Chicago man is hoping to change that, one pint at a time.
Mark Buciak holds what's considered "hero status" when it comes to donating blood - and he does it all from the goodness of his heart.
"There's a million excuses. There's only one reason to give: to share the gift of life with others most in need," Buciak said.
Buciak first donated blood as a freshman in college and has been donating ever since. He estimates that's more than six gallons of blood donations in four decades.
Along the way, he began organizing his own blood drive every Veterans Day weekend, in honor of his father.
"My father would tell me, 'If you have a gift, don't keep it. Give thanks to God and share that gift with others,'" Buciak said.
His efforts have earned him the American Red Cross 2017 Blood Services Hero award.
"People may say, 'There's another blood drive,' or, 'There's a shortage of blood,'" Buciak said. "They have to understand the reason. You can't make blood in the laboratory. You cannot make blood in the factory. There's only one source of blood. That's you and me."
But what if you're thinking about donating for the first time and you're feeling a little apprehensive?
"The first thing is, when you donate, you have to a reason or mission to do it. Do it in honor of a family member or a friend or a veteran," Buciak said. "This is one way the average person can come and show goodness and kindness still prevails in the world."
Help save lives by donating blood at this year's 5th Annual Great Chicago Blood Drive on Jan. 16 at one of three locations: the CDW in Vernon Hills, on the seventh floor for the Merchandise Mart and the Drake Oak Brook Hotel. Each location will be open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Make an appointment by downloading the American Red Cross Blood Donor App by visiting redcrossblood.org (enter sponsor code: ABC7Chicago) or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Help save lives by donating blood, just like Red Cross hero Mark Buciak