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KPBS Evening Edition

Sports Anchor's Story Of Survival Inspires New Blood Drive

CBS8 Sports Director Kyle Kraska smiles outside of his office at the KFMB Studios in Kearny Mesa. Colleagues decorated the space as he recovered from being shot multiple times in 2015.
Bennett Lacy
CBS8 Sports Director Kyle Kraska smiles outside of his office at the KFMB Studios in Kearny Mesa. Colleagues decorated the space as he recovered from being shot multiple times in 2015.

This week marks four years since CBS8 Sports Director Kyle Kraska was shot six times in an ambush outside of his home in Scripps Ranch. Kraska said it took him about a year to make a full physical recovery. A big part of his mental and emotional recovery is happening this week, as he and KFMB hold a blood drive for the local chapter of the American Red Cross. KPBS recently spoke with Kraska about the shooting, his recovery, and why he felt a calling to organize this event.

The Celebration of Heroes Blood Drive will be held all day Thursday, February 14, at Dave and Busters in Mission Valley. CBS8 reports the event is fully booked.

Q: How did this event come together?

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A: Each year on the anniversary of my being shot, which is February 10th, it has been a personal day of reflection for me. I have thought about all of the people who saved my life on that day. I have even driven the path that the ambulance took from my house to Scripps Memorial. And I have met with the doctors and the nurses, and I’ve thanked them personally. I have hugged them, and we’ve talked about that day, and we cried and it’s been a very personal thing. But now this, coming upon the four year anniversary, it’s time to take this public, because this was a public thing.

Q: How has the community responded?

I honestly can’t even begin to tell you the remarkable response. The Red Cross is daily giving me updates with glee that we have booked every possible appointment. They had appointments every 15 minutes, ten beds at a time, they’re all gone.

Q: What is the need for an event like this for first responders?

This is the time that they normally have the greatest need, and we have an even greater need now because what used to be a Chargers Blood Drive went away a year ago in 2017. And so that blood drive, normally in December, gone. We are at a critical stage. The Red Cross has issued an emergency for blood, asking all donors please come out and give blood if you can. So the timing of this is just ideal. Hopefully, on Valentine’s Day, we can help replenish that supply.

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Q: What is the status of your physical and mental recovery?

A: People ask me that all the time to this day. I’ll be at the grocery store, and someone will come up to me and ask how is your recovery going. I’ll say I’m 110-percent. I was shot six times in my driveway. Bullets that went through my chest. There’s no way I should be alive. I just shouldn’t. I needed 14 units of blood on day one. My liver, my lung was destroyed. I should be dead, and it’s a miracle I’m not. And a lot of people said after that, you know what, you’re still here because you have a purpose. And I think this is the purpose.

Each year on the anniversary, taking that journey, spending time in my driveway, thinking about where I was and how bad I was. Thinking about the people who found me and got me to the hospital. And everyone who was there at the trauma center and how they saved my life multiple times. I coded twice. They brought me back. Essentially my life was saved twice. To think about all that and mentally get past that and get strong, you know it took a little while.

Q: Why is this event important to you?

A: I have a very strong purpose in my life to do something great for this community, and I tell people this blood drive is not about me. I am the conduit to getting the community to rally, to give blood and to celebrate heroes. I want the star of this event to be doctors, nurses, surgeons, police, fire, EMTs. All people who saved my life and save lives every day and very rarely get recognized.”

One thing I said four years ago after I was OK to speak publicly: I said I will never, ever, ever be able to thank this community enough times for what they did for me in 2015. I am not going to stop thanking. This is my giant thank you to San Diego.

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