U.S. Rep. Pete Olson couldn't hide his excitement for the free, tasty snacks when he walked into the Sugar Land Neighborhood Donor Center. When I first met, Rep. Olson he sported a Texas flag facemask and an infectious enthusiasm to save lives with his O positive blood donation.
Not many know, but in 1990, Rep. Olson was in a severe car accident that resulted in multiple facial fractures and hours of surgery. Then, four years ago, Olson's father, now in his 80s, received blood when his aorta ruptured outside of Nashville.
"He recovered. He's with us today," Olson said earlier this year when he stopped by Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center's Sugar Land facility to donate blood. "So, blood donations touched my life personally."
While hoisted in a donation chair, Olson recalled the first time he gave blood—it was amid the uproar of Sept. 11, 2001. Olson had been in Washington, D.C., at Capitol Hill that day, and he sought something he could do to support his country. Two decades later, he continues to donate every chance he can.
"I feared needles when I was a little boy. On my first shot, the doctor tricked me. He said, 'OK, no, no, no, I'm not going to stick you.' Bam, then he stuck me," Olson remembered. "And I was fearful, but after that, it's like 'this is nothing.'
But his service to the community, Texans and the nation didn't start with a seat in Congress. Nor will his commitment to service end when his term ends in January 2021.
In 2019, Olson decided not to run for reelection after a decade of serving the residents of South Houston and its Southwest suburbs as the U.S. Representative for District 22.
"My adult life has been spent honorably serving our nation: first as an officer and pilot in the United States Navy, then to the halls of the United States Senate working with two of Texas' greatest senators, and, most incredibly, as the voice in Congress for the amazing people who call the 22nd District home," Rep. Olson wrote in a statement announcing his last term in Congress.
Whenever the congressman has come in to donate with us, he’s been generous with his time and kept us laughing with his good-natured jokes and observations.
We at Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center wanted to take a moment to thank him for his decades of service and partnership in advocating the need for blood donations. Throughout the challenges of 2020, Olson has led by example, donating blood at our Sugar Land facility, and encouraging others to join him.
His advice for first-time blood donors is not to be afraid.
"It's taking care of our neighbors—Texans take care of Texans," Rep. Olson said.
Thank you, Rep. Olson, for being a true hero to our community and the constituents you so selflessly serve. There is no doubt that your work has made an immeasurable impact.