When softball player Tara Blair (’10) applied for the American Red Cross/NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) Collegiate Leadership Program scholarship, she didn’t quite know what she was getting herself into.

“Coach [Anna] Welsh and [Athletic Director] Mark Lantz told me there was this scholarship and I just went for it,” Blair says.

What followed was two weeks of intensive leadership training with the Red Cross and NAIA in Washington D.C.

“We worked on a strategic plan to recruit donors and set up drives on campus,” Blair says.

It was there that she met Brian Hamil (’82), who volunteers as National Chair of Bio Medical Services with the Red Cross, in addition to his full-time job as a CPA and serving on the Bethel College board of trustees.

“Brian is fun,” Blair says. “While we were in D.C., he took us places and showed us all around. He is a generous guy with a heart for the Red Cross.”

Hamil started the scholarship program in 2007, when he realized there was a lack of young leadership in the Red Cross. His goal is to train student-athlete leaders who will go back to their colleges/universities and get young people involved in donating.

“I realized that in order for this program to be a success, it had to be a win-win opportunity for students” he says.

That’s why the two-week training program is so fun-filled, while being educational. Students get paid for training, in addition to leaving with a $2,000 scholarship and enthusiasm for the Red Cross.

“The hope is that they will do blood drives,” Hamil says.

Here at Bethel, Blair has already coordinated two, bringing in 247 units of blood.

She’s realized what Hamil’s known all along — that this program is more than just a scholarship. It’s saving people’s lives.“If we can get people to donate when they’re younger, they’ll most likely donate in the future,” says Blair. It’s safe to say — Blair’s caught the vision.