GREENVILLE, Ohio – The old Scarlet and Gray sparkled like silver as loyal members of the Darke County OSU Alumni Club celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Community Blood Center “Tailgate Blood Drive” Nov. 13 at the Greenville Church of the Brethren.
Alumni Club volunteers wore the school colors as they served a Tailgate menu of treats in the Donor Cafe, including chocolate and peanut butter buckeyes. A giant blow-up Brutus stood watch in the donor room while “OSU Buckeyeman” superfan Larry Lokai and Coach Jim Tressel look-a-like Dennis “Tress” Singleton made the rounds handing out Buckeye necklaces and posing for Facebook photos.
The anniversary edition maintained the Tailgate tradition of drawing large crowds. Tuesday’s blood drive totaled 123 donors, including 113 whole blood donations and 10 platelet and plasma donations for nearly 100 percent of the collection goal.
“It was probably our toughest year,” said Alumni Club President Bill Barga who took over as blood drive coordinator last year. “People are getting too busy, but we didn’t want to let down Community Blood Center. We’re still one of the largest blood drives in Darke County. We look very positive for the future, and we definitely want to continue. It’s for a good cause.”
The Tailgate gathering was a time to remember long-time Tailgate organizer Tot Heinrich, who passed away in August.
“Tot and Wilma Heiby started it and ran the blood drive up until Wilma passed,” said Bill. “Tot always made her cheese ball for the Tailgate and the Kick Off Party for OSU freshmen.”
The club can count on friends like Larry “Buckeyeman” Lokai to show up in his wild spiked wig, face paint and OSU jersey with a supply of hand-made necklaces. “My grandchildren went to Darke County schools,” said Larry, who enjoyed a long career in FAA, agriculture education and poultry judging. “When you get in the ‘ag’ circle, there are a lot of connections.”
“Didn’t you judge chickens at the Darke County Fair?” asked donor Tiffany Kester. For proof she found a photo on her phone of Larry judging at the fair – without the “Buckeyeman” costume.
It was the first visit to the Tailgate blood drive for “Tress” Dennis Singleton, who still turns heads in crowds familiar with the Tressel era in Buckeye football. “For me, it’s kind of for people who know who I’m supposed to look like!” said Dennis. “People get a kick out of it and take pictures.”
The Tailgate marked a first for Greenville donor Derek Tutwiler. CBC asked if he would consider becoming a platelet donor and he agreed. He brought along a Brutus pillow, knowing his first platelet donation would take a bit longer than a whole blood donation.
“They called me and said I had a high platelet count,” said Derek. “I was a little nervous, I didn’t know what to expect. But I always like to help if I can.”
Both OSU grads and causal fans like to support the Tailgate blood drive when it comes around in late November, as the annual season finale showdown with rival Michigan draws near.
“I got back on schedule to I could come to this one,” said Wayne Fourman who made his 85th donation at the Tailgate. “I remember my first,” he said of the OSU vs. Michigan rivalry. “I was at the 50 yard line, six rows up for ‘The Game.’”