Barbara Hardin arrived in the Dean Smith Center last week ready to encourage donors at the 30th Carolina Blood Drive. Her late husband and former UNC Chancellor, Paul Hardin, was to be honored for his work with the drive. She didn’t expect to learn something new about Paul from the presentation.

“I didn’t know that he had started it,” Hardin said. “I knew he was a believer; his blood type was O negative. So he took that very seriously.”

30th Annual Carolina Blood Drive. Photo via Blake Hodge.

Paul Hardin founded the Carolina Blood Drive in 1989. Over time, it’s become one of the largest single-day drives. In its 30th year, the blood drive collected 778 units. With every unit helping roughly three patients, that means the drive likely helped 2,334 patients with these summer donations.

Chancellor Carol Folt attended the drive and marveled at how Paul Hardin’s impact is still seen. She also spoke about how happy she was that Barbara came too.

“To have Barbara Hardin here was really special,” Folt said. “This was an event that Paul started and neither of us even knew it. He did so many things; he never looked for credit; he just was about people and community. So to have a chance to stand with her on the 30th meant a lot to me.”

The blood drive featured appearances from many community figures beyond Hardin and Folt. Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger, UNC basketball players and the UNC Police dog Franklin all showed support for the cause.

UNC Police dog Franklin at the Carolina Blood Drive. Photo via Blake Hodge.

Two donors who own perfect records with the Carolina Blood Drive were there too. Herbert Davis, a former UNC professor, is one of those, having donated each year of the drive’s existence. That means he’s impacted nearly 100 patients all on his own. He said, in his mind, it’s a simple action.

“It’s just a small contribution, when you think about all of the need people have,” said Davis. “You just have to think that when you’re in a place like this that encourages you to volunteer and do good thing, that’s the key: to do good things.”

Davis echoed the sentiments about Hardin’s lasting impact through the blood drive, saying he believes the event is a testament to the university’s mission to help others.

“I think it represents the university as much as anything of contributing in an outward way, beyond the campus,” Davis said. “This donor drive affects people beyond just the students and faculty and staff. The university has always been one that inspired me to try to give back to the community and state, because the university does so much for people.”

After the presentation honoring her husband, Barbara Hardin shared similar thoughts to how the drive reflects Paul’s character.

“It meant a lot to him, and it means a lot to me that they chose to recognize him,” said Hardin. “It’s a wonderful thing. It’s been a hallmark of this university to do good things, and all it took was an idea and they ran with it.”

Carolina Blood Drive’s next event will be held in the winter, when they expect the drive’s all-time impact to reach 100,000 total patients.