Friend's Death Inspires NWU Student to Help Save Lives

Nebraska Wesleyan junior Hannah Husmann has been on a mission to save lives since her freshman year of high school, when a classmate died of cancer.

“I wanted to help in any way I could, and her parents suggested giving blood and told us how she had needed blood transfusions,” Husmann recalled.

Husmann then spent the rest of her high school career taking lifeguarding, CPR, first aid and AED classes from the American Red Cross. Now, she is the driving force behind the university’s new student organization, the Red Cross Club, which is planning a spring blood drive for April 9-10.

Last spring, the political science and communication double major from Kearney applied to and was accepted to the summer Red Cross/NAIA Collegiate Leadership Academy in Washington, D.C. Husmann and other NAIA college students learned how to establish Red Cross clubs on their campuses, coordinate blood drives, and apply leadership skills.

“We brainstormed and discussed several strategies that would motivate college kids to donate blood,” she said. “The whole concept of implementing blood drives on a college campus is to mobilize lifelong donors.”

Husmann said the most important concept she took away from the experience was an emphasis on teamwork, and credits the team building workshops at the academy for helping her prepare to lead Nebraska Wesleyan’s Red Cross Club.

“Leaders from the Red Cross and Jan Vermeer, my faculty advisor, have invested so much time into encouraging me and keeping me on my toes,” she said. “I have an amazing group of students to work with. Without these students, the club and blood drive wouldn’t be anywhere near as successful as they have been.”

Husmann was hard at work on Nebraska Wesleyan’s Red Cross Club long before her leadership academy experience. Last spring, she began work on blood drive reservations, the club’s constitution, and its membership core. After returning from the leadership academy, Husmann and Red Cross Club vice president Zach Jensen recruited help at the fall student involvement fair. More than 150 students indicated interest in joining, volunteering, or donating.

Husmann and her fellow club members also reached out to the Nebraska Wesleyan community by personally recruiting students, coaches, and faculty.

“We were going door to door to all the Greek houses on campus, going to Pre-Health Club meetings, reaching out to first-year students in the dorms, asking all the coaches and student athletes to get involved,” she recalled. “It was awesome to see all the different demographics of campus come together for a common goal: saving lives.”

The club spent their first semester coordinating a December blood drive, establishing networking connections, and reaching out to donors and local businesses.

To say the Red Cross Club’s first blood drive was successful would be an understatement. The group achieved and exceeded their goal of 100 donations, with 153 total donors.

“We even had to turn donors away because we were so packed,” said Husmann.

Now the club is busy with final preparations for the spring blood drive April 9-10. Husmann wants to see the same turnout and hopes a newly-established blood drive challenge with Doane College — which includes a traveling trophy — will motivate more people to participate. 

Husmann hopes to apply her experience to a career with a nonprofit organization.

“When you get to the point where you can turn around and share the blessings that have been bestowed on you is when you know you are in the right profession,” she said. “The Red Cross experience has shown me the joy, happiness, and sense of fulfillment that comes along with doing something that you love for the purpose of helping others.”

Faculty, staff, and students who want to participate in the blood drive can sign up at www.redcrossblood.org using sponsor code 0091942. Sign up will also be available at locations across campus in early April. The blood drive will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days in Prairie Wolf A & B, located in the student center.

Those who participate can log one hour of service towards the 12,500 Hour Service Challenge. Only 1,740 hours are needed to reach the service challenge goal. Log your service hours.

Awesome job Hannah! So proud

Awesome job Hannah! So proud of you!!

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Following a high school friend's death, Hannah equipped herself with life-saving skills including starting NWU's Red Cross Club.
Hannah Husmann, president, and Zach Jensen, vice president of the Red Cross Club, have spearheaded the club's efforts this year.