Many hunts organize volunteer activities to support their local communities. Given the hard-riding, competitive nature of the Elkridge-Harford Hunt (MD), it's not surprising that one popular charitable event produces big results and dueling donations. These donations aren't cash, though. They're lifesaving units of blood, given at the "Hunt for Blood," now in its 12th year.
Elkridge-Harford (EHHC) member Bill Pearce organizes the drive in cooperation with the Red Cross every February. Like any other blood drive, donors are screened and monitored during and after the process. "This was by far our best year yet," Pearce reported. "The weather cooperated and we had a wonderful turnout. We crushed our our previous record and donated 64 units of blood, for a twelve year total of 530 units donated back to the community. This year the Red Cross also offered Double Red donations, which quite a few donors elected to do."
Setting the example: EHHC Master Elizabeth Voss Murray. Photo courtesy of Bill Pearce.
The Hunt for Blood originated with an all-women shooting group which included several EHHC members. Their beloved instructor, Paul Beckman, developed health problems which required transfusions. While he ultimately passed away, the women and their families and friends wanted to help others in his honor. Pearce, a former volunteer firefighter, reached out to the Red Cross and the tradition began.
Potomac Hunt (MD) member Jennifer Sponseller Webster gets in on the fun. Photo courtesy of Bill Pearce.
Five beds are set up at the clubhouse and due to popular demand, donors are scheduled through the day. All hunt clubs love to recognize winners, and EHHC is no exception in this regard: The "Speedy Bleeder" trophy is presented to the individual who fills his or her bag the quickest.
Participant Jennifer Sponseller Webster said, "This was my second time donating in three years (I was sick last year) and it is such a fantastic event! Bill gets great support from the whole hunting community, from landowners to members young and old. Heck, I was giving blood beside one of the few women to ever win the Maryland Hunt Cup! And EHHC puts a fun spin on the event, hands out pint glasses to donors, and even offers to fill them with a Bloody Mary."
Alice Peirce made a game effort to defend her 2018 Speedy Bleeder title. Photo courtesy of Bill Pearce.
This year, Alice Peirce lost her 2018 title of Speedy Bleeder despite a very impressive time of 3:15; she was third overall. This year's winner was Heather Welch with a blistering time of 2:57! Ashton Williams was a mere nine seconds behind at 3:06.
Special recognition is due to members Tom Walton, who marked his 48th year as a blood donor, and Jim Tanzola, who is currently in "the Three Gallon Club" and continues to donate.
Bethany Bumgardner and Theresa Dimpfell enjoy a drink and a donation. Photo courtesy of Bill Pearce.
And no EHHC blood drive is complete without Bloody Mary's being served afterward in club logo and dated pint glasses. The mix recipe reportedly was won in a 1913 poker match. Perhaps not accustomed to the "work hard, play hard" mantra of foxhutnters, the Red Cross organizers were at first taken aback by the festive atmosphere surrounding the annual drive. "They readily admit this is one of the more unique blood drives they have," Pearce said, "However, in meeting and always exceeding our goals, they are happy to schedule us every February."