Pay It Forward: Guard Husker hosts a blood drive inspired by a close call

LINCOLN, Neb. (Nebraska) – On the pitch, Sam Griesel can be unstoppable. But in late 2021, while the Lincoln native was still playing for North Dakota State, an off-the-field experience tore away that sense of invincibility.

“I fell to the ground, in and out of consciousness, and vomited just over half of my blood,” Griesel said.

It was a bleeding stomach ulcer that sent him to the emergency room and required a blood transfusion. He said he changed his outlook on life.

“That experience made me enjoy all the little things in life, with valuable relationships,” Griesel said.

And he inspired his hometown basketball star to give back to the community by hosting a blood drive at Memorial Stadium on Friday. The event brought 78 units of blood in a time of urgent need.

“The awareness he’s bringing to this cause is really commendable,” said coach Fred Hoiberg. “Sam continues to do things that make everyone around him and everyone in this state, everyone that is affiliated with this university, proud to be a Husker.”

For many donors and volunteers, Griesel’s presence at the blood drive has made their efforts more meaningful.

“He doesn’t do it for attention or recognition; he’s doing it because he feels like he’s had his blood transfusion,” said Kate Dean, who helped organize the event. “His life has changed, so just to see him being authentic in that and wanting to wear this and hang out here today, it was really powerful to see a student-athlete do that.”

Griesel did not donate blood on Friday in view of his upcoming matches, but said he will in future, knowing that each pint can save up to three lives.

“I know there are many people in this world who need a blood transfusion and there is a shortage of blood,” Griesel said.

And Griesel said he hopes to continue serving the community.

“Lincoln will be a big part of my life for the rest of my life, and I’m sure there will be a lot more like today in the future,” he said.

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