Sixth-year medicine student Jack Bryant took the reins as JCUMSA Vampire Cup convenor in 2018. With the team making 40 donations and coming last in 2017, Jack embraced the challenge of turning things around and inspiring his fellow students.
“When I took over the role of JCUMSA convenor for the cup, it was just sort of one of my roles as the junior AMSA rep. I thought, if I'm gonna do it, I might as well try and do it properly,” Jack says.
While there has always been a strong altruistic reason to donate blood, Jack wanted to make sure it was also fun for participants. The group ran selfie competitions and other promotions which featured videos with the likes of the Toyota North Queensland Cowboys. Throughout the entire campaign, there was a fun and friendly rivalry among the JCU colleges.
“Competitions like the Vampire Cup are a great way to attack the challenge from a different angle. If you look at the sort of demographics of usual blood donors, it's usually people who are a bit older. I think the competitive nature of the cup has helped inspire younger people to start donating,” Jack says.
The 2017 wooden spooners stunned the competition in 2018, taking the cup with 425 donations in the eight-week timeframe. It was an almost tenfold increase in donations in the space of a year. Proving that the result was not a flash in the pan, Jack and fellow medical student Tanish John led the team to double their efforts again with 845 donations in 2019.
"I think the JCU community, not only the medical students, have responded with passion and authenticity to this competition and it shows the kind of impact you can make with this kind of attitude,” Jack says.
Bianca Johnson and Blair Shearwin have taken the reins as JCUMSA Vampire Cup convenor in 2020 and 2021 respectively. They’ve carried on the team's winning ways, making it four years running. This year, Jack took on the role of the National Convenor for the cup and was thrilled to see that over 3,500 donations were made across all universities during the contest.
“The proudest moment for me is seeing people going back to donate over and over again. Last year JCUMSA managed to reach 2,500 donations and we hold the record for the most donations in the cup in a single year.”
“I’ve been privileged and humbled with the responses and support we’ve gotten. It’s shown me that people really get behind you if you're passionate about a project." JCU Medicine Student Jack Bryant, JCUMSA Vampire Cup Convenor 2018
Inspired by the success of the cup, Jack has embarked on a research project, with the help of JCU and the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood, to determine the effect of competition on donor retention and recruitment.
“From what I’ve seen, there is a gap in the literature. A lot of past research has focused on donor behaviour and motivations, but there isn’t much on the group mentality of donating or the influence of competition.
“My research aims to dig deeper on what we have seen anecdotally. Something about this competition is making people not only sign up but also keep coming back. I hope the research will be able to direct Lifeblood in how they work with the community to increase donation levels,” Jack says.