GREAT FALLS — A year and a half ago Troy Ross was in the hospital battling a life-threatening condition that caused his lungs to fill up with blood. He’s alive today because of transfusions made possible by blood donations.
The Ross family wanted to pay it forward, so all this week they’ve partnered with the American Red Cross for a statewide #TroyStrong blood drive. It’s made stops stops in Havre, Missoula, Kalispell, Bozeman, Billings, Helena and wrapped up Thursday in Great Falls.
Troy is the son of Great Falls High football assistant coach Wes Ross, and sports played a big part in the outpouring of support. Teams, coaches and athletes from across Montana volunteered their time, helped promote the event and even donated blood themselves. The event even brought rivals together with coaching staffs at Montana and Montana State sharing messages of support.
All told, the drive secured more than 155 donors with more yet to be counted.
The event was as much about securing donations as it was about spreading awareness of the constant need. One blood donation can save three lives, yet there is a constant shortage in the state of Montana and across the country. On that point, the #TroyStrong campaign achieved its goal and then some.
“It’s just grown so much, and we’re on target to get over 150 donations, which means that over 450 are impacted,” said Callie Ross, Troy’s mother. “And almost every drive is like 50 percent new donors, so we hope that they’ll see how easy it is and we hope they can continue doing it, because it’s something that they can do that’s easy, that doesn’t cost money, and you can always give back. I feel like we definitely accomplished what we set out for #TroyStrong to do.”
It helps to attach a face to the issue, and Troy’s presence and story resonated with donors at each stop across the state.
“He has kind of made himself a little part of everybody’s heart in Montana. It’s been pretty awesome,” added Callie.
The timing of the #TroyStrong blood drive was not random, either. Little Troy will celebrate his fifth birthday this weekend.
And Montana will celebrate with him.