Canadian Blood Services paid tribute to donors, volunteers and partners last night at the Radisson Hotel in Red Deer.

2018 05 16 cunnington2(Para-swimmer Tammy Cunnington addresses crowd at Canadian Blood Services donor recognition event - photo courtesy Shaun Richer)

Para-swimmer Tammy Cunnington was invited as a guest speaker, herself a blood recipient after she was struck by a plane at age six.

Cunnington cannot give blood because of the treatments she’s gone through but has lent her voice to encourage others to do it on her behalf.

“From the moment of injury until such a time I could be in a hospital where they could look after me properly, being given blood was the only thing keeping me alive,” Cunnington said beforehand in a phone interview.

“If there hadn’t been people who were generous in giving, and there hadn’t been blood available, I wouldn’t have been able to win that fight that led me to the quality of life I’ve led since that time.”

There were about 125 donors in attendance, who’ve made a combined 2,300 donations.

Cunnington said she wanted to put a face on the impact they make.

“You’re giving blood but not necessarily seeing the results of it. I think it’s a good motivation and encouragement to put a face to the results of what people are doing,” she said.

It was 1982 when an airplane crashed at the Ponoka Air Show, striking Cunnington. She went through 17 surgeries and numerous blood transfusions.

The crash left her a paraplegic with the full use of her right arm, core and shoulders. She has since competed in para-triathlon and wheelchair basketball. In 2016, she competed in para-swimming at the Rio Paralympics.

She is also building a career in motivational speaking.

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