A Wapakoneta native who recently attended a leadership conference will take all of the information she learned back to her university in hopes of saving lives.
Devon Golden, a 2009 graduate of Wapakoneta High School, attended the Red Cross/NAIA Collegiate Leadership Program in Washington, D.C. from June 6-June 17.
“It was the best experience I’ve ever had,” Golden said.
Golden, who plays basketball at Georgetown College in Kentucky, was one of the 14 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) college athletes chosen to attend this special leadership conference.
The American Red Cross, which sponsored this event, notes the goal of the program is to educate the student-athletes about the Red Cross and give them the tools and mindset to begin blood drives at their universities, or to take existing blood drives to the next level at their schools.
Golden said she will take everything she has learned and help coordinate blood drives on her campus beginning this fall when she returns back to campus.
“My coach told me about it and thought this would be a good experience,” Golden said.
Throughout the conference, Golden listened to a number of Red Cross affiliates, who talked to the group of students, along with a few inspirational stories of how Red Cross has saved lives. She had several luncheons with different CEOs, CFOs and attorneys.
“It was a business setting,” Golden said. “They treated us like professionals.”
Golden said that talking with these professionals helped her to also network, but her favorite part of the whole experience was meeting new people.
“They were awesome people,” Golden said, of both the students she attended the conference with and the Red Cross leaders. “They are people you want to surround yourself with. I know we will stay in contact.”
Also during her stay, she had an opportunity to tour Washington. D.C. and visit monuments and take a tour of the White House and Capitol Building.
Also, the students attended a Washington Nationals versus St. Louis Cardinals baseball game, in which they had an opportunity to go on the field during batting practice and meet the players.
Golden said she hopes to take all of knowledge that she learned to help build the Red Cross blood drives at Georgetown University.
“My hope it to take the numbers from past drives and continue increasing that,” Golden said.
She also hopes to educate the campus on the importance of donating blood.
“I donated for the first time my sophomore year in college,” Golden said. “I was scared, but I went for it. You save three lives everytime you donate.”
Golden said she heard a quote from the convention that she will always remember, which is “the fear of donating is better than the fear of dying.”
“It puts it into perspective,” Golden said.
Sharing this information with her college is what she is excited about upon returning to Georgetown for her junior year of college.
“When I went to college, I knew I wanted to be involved,” Golden said. “This is a good opportunity to reach out to freshman and get involvement out.”
Golden was the only person from Georgetown College to attend this conference, and she is excited about the opportunity to share her knowledge and help out the American Red Cross.
“It’s unbelievable to me how big the need is,” Golden said.