"It's about honoring the memory of the victims, but we're so emotionally struck by the way the community responded and showed up and has donated a significant amount of blood that will allow us to save lives."
-Jim Childress, Vice President of Community Relations for Michigan Blood
The country's largest 9/11 blood drive returned to Michigan International Speedway.
After a hiatus last year, the Spirit of America event came back to the track, and it's like it never left.
It was an appropriately somber day at MIS as people gave back by giving blood.
"I'm a regular donor," Eugene L. Withrow said. "I've got over four gallons now. I think you feel better after you get rid of the old blood."
Withrow has been donating blood since he was 22. He spent 14 years in the National Guard and hasn't missed a single Spirit of America blood drive at MIS.
"I think it's important that people help out," Withrow said.
About 600 people showed up to donate blood, which translates to nearly 1,800 lives that can be saved right here in Michigan
"It's about honoring the memory of the victims, but we're so emotionally struck by the way the community responded and showed up and has donated a significant amount of blood that will allow us to save lives," Jim Childress, Vice President of Community Relations for Michigan Blood, said.
Non-profit Michigan Blood stepped in to collect the donations this year. Every single drop of blood the organization collects stays in the state, but the blood drive was only one stop for many people at the track.
"It's more than a blood drive," MIS Director of Guest Services Tim Booth said. "It's a complete experience beyond just the rewarding part of giving the blood and honoring 9/11."
It was also about reflecting on the events 12 years ago. MIS created a special museum filled with newspapers and artifacts from that day. A unity field filled with 3,000 flags to honor the victims of the attacks was a place donors and the public could pay their respects as well.
"You can tell they enjoyed doing it, they enjoyed being a part of it, but it's also very solemn to remember it all, and you put it all together and it makes for a pretty memorable day," Childress said.
An emotional event for a day that will never be forgotten.
"Hopefully this does some help for somebody," Withrow said.
This is the biggest blood drive Michigan Blood has had since the day of the attacks in 2001.
It plans on partnering with MIS again next year.