LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — An Indiana woman who became a regular blood donor to repay the units used by her late husband has won a pair of tickets to the Super Bowl in Indianapolis because of her generosity.
Carol Sikler, 50, of Lafayette won the tickets from the Indiana Blood Center. Sikler was as surprised as anyone when she found out she'd be attending football's biggest event next Sunday.
"I'm not the kind of person who wins things," she told the Journal & Courier (http://on.jconline.com/A8PLga ) for a story published Sunday.
But those around her said no one is more deserving.
"She's a good example of what people should do," said Dee Duncan, a phlebotomist at the Indiana Blood Center in Lafayette.
Giving blood has also helped her deal with the grief of losing her husband, Chuck Sikler, a former pastor at Baptist Temple in Logansport. He died in 2003, after having his colon removed 2½ years earlier.
She won the tickets for donating blood or blood products at least four times in three months. She recently passed 143 donated units of either whole blood or platelets, matching the number of units her late husband used before he died.
"It's a way for me to do something for someone that can't ever thank me or pay me back personally. It's giving without expectation," she said.
About a year after her husband's death, Sikler and her daughter moved to Lafayette to be closer to her job at Purdue University, where she's worked in the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department for 14 years.
On one of her early donation visits, she was asked to be a platelet donor. The platelet donation process takes longer, as much as two hours each time, because the blood is taken out and platelets are separated through a machine. The red blood cells and most of the plasma, or liquid in the blood, are then returned. The replenishment to the donor means people can give platelets more often, some every seven days.
Duncan, who's worked closely with Sikler at the Lafayette donation center, called her one of the most dynamic women she's ever met.
"When she walks into a room, she's boisterous and vivacious. There's a little bit of country in her, which is charming," Duncan said. "She's very dedicated to her church, to her daughter. And she's very dedicated to donating blood."
Wendy Mehringer, chief marketing officer for Indiana Blood Center, said contests such as the Super Bowl ticket giveaway are designed to encourage more donors to follow Sikler's example. The organization is trying to increase donation volume by pushing people to give at least twice each year.
"You can donate every 56 days, but that's not the case for most people," Mehringer said. "We don't see most people twice."
More frequent visits from the blood center's 110,000 unique donors would go a long way toward stabilizing the state's supply. Plus, Mehringer said platelet donations are always needed because the product has only a five-day shelf life.
Mehringer said Sikler's trip to the Super Bowl is well-deserved. And as a fan of the Indianapolis Colts, Sikler plans to root for Eli Manning and the New York Giants.
"We only have one person going to the game, but (Sikler's) carrying the flag for all of us at the blood center," Mehringer said. "We could not be more excited for her."
Information from: Journal and Courier, http://www.jconline.com