Twelve hundred lives - lives that include cancer patients, Sickle Cell Anemia patients, accident and trauma victims, premature babies, transplant recipients and many, many others. More than 1,200 individuals are alive today because of Trudell Eldridge's "Commitment to Caring."

Trudell dedicates her time, talents and creativity to Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center and the patients we serve, asking for nothing in return. She is fulfilled by the satisfaction of helping save lives. Her volunteer efforts stem from a true compassion for others and a desire to help patients return to lives as full and healthy as hers.

She is the chairperson of the Bill T. Teague Community Advocates, a group she helped form in 2005 to increase awareness of the need for blood donations. Keeping in mind the decrease in donations The Blood Center experiences at certain times of year, Trudell plans her group's blood drives at those times to help ensure an adequate blood supply is available for patients in the hospitals. Under Trudell's leadership, the advocates hosted four blood drives in each 2006 and 2007, generating more than 400 blood donations. She plans to go an extra mile in 2008 by hosting five blood drives with her group.

Based at our headquarters location in southwest Houston, the Bill T. Teague Community Advocates have a special interest in increasing blood donations from African-Americans. Only 5 percent of the general population donates blood, and of that, only 8 percent are African-American. Recognizing the need for more African-American donors, Trudell dedicates the advocates' annual September blood drive to Sickle Cell Anemia awareness. She educates the African-American community on how their donations are needed to help sickle cell patients who require matched blood donations, which most often come from donors of the same ethnicity.

She has recruited many new donors by cultivating relationships with influential groups like the Sickle Cell Society of the Texas Gulf Coast and the NAACP. Her passion for the cause has won their support, and African-American donor participation has increased from its average of 8 percent to as high as 33 percent at the group's September blood drives.

Every day, individuals who have received blood are thriving, excelling in school and their careers, and smiling because of Trudell's generosity. She will never meet all of the individuals whose lives she has helped save, but her "Commitment to Caring" ensures there will be countless more who get a second chance at life.