More than 120 students, teachers and staff representing 45 Coastal Bend high schools gathered at the Omni Bayfront Hotel to celebrate the conclusion of the Coastal Bend Blood Center's annual High School Hero Challenge.

This year-long competition separates participating high schools into four divisions based on size and encourages them to generate the highest number of blood donations for their division. The top four schools in each division are awarded gift certificates for use on items to benefit the school.

Local winners include in Div. 1A Ben Bolt-Palito Blanco High School, honorable mention; Div. 3A winner Falfurrias High School and Orange Grove, honorable mention.

The Coastal Bend Blood Center is an independent non-profit community-based blood center, accredited by the AABB and licensed by the Food and Drug Administration. The Blood Center is one of 76 members of America's Blood Centers, the largest provider of blood products and services in North America. The Coastal Bend Blood Center provides blood for patients at 12 medical facilities in 10 Coastal Bend counties.