Light The Night Survivors Circle

KETTERING, Ohio – Kettering eighth grader Gabe Duplechan is an Honored Hero of the 2018 Dayton Light The Night Walk, and it was his job to lead a crowd of 3,000 walkers away from the bright lights of the Fraze Pavilion and into a pitch black October night.

He had no idea where he was taking them.

But Gabe’s a blood cancer survivor, so he’s got this. “I don’t know,” he said as marched with confidence toward an uncertain path, “but I guess we’ll figure it out along the way!”

Most of the lantern carriers who joined the Oct. 18 walk to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society know what it means to counter uncertainty with confidence.  Those carrying glowing red lanterns are the support troops for survivors like Gabe, who carry white lanterns high.  Those honoring the memory of lost loved ones hold lanterns of gold.  They all carry hope for a cure.

“Thanks to LLS I am here tonight,” three-time cancer survivor and former Dayton walk chairman Bob Reynolds told the crowd. “Thank you for being here tonight, for helping Light The Night, and thank you for giving hope to so many people.”

“For sure we’ll reach $350,000,” said LLS Dayton Area Director Cris Pederson of the 2018 Dayton Light The Night fundraising. “We have a very good chance of getting to our $400,000 goal.”

Dayton Walk Chairman Anita Adams-Jenkins announced Community Blood Center/Community Tissue Center as 2018’s top corporate team with more than $29,000 in fundraising.

“Remember the Fallen, Fight the War(ner)” was the top Friends and Family team with $13,497.  Past Dayton Walk chairman Donnie Hill, who was honored by LLS with the Chairman’s Special Recognition Award, was the top individual fundraiser with more than $15,000 donated.

In all the applause for the success, in all the emotions of the “Survivors Circle” and triumphant walk into the night, there was also the quiet voice of Addy Henderson.  The Kettering seventh-grader is a leukemia survivor and co-Honored Hero of the Dayton Light The Night Walk.

“It feels nice to show everyone that I survived,” said Addy as she matched strides with Gabe.

It was the first Light The Night Walk for the Napper family from Beavercreek.  Their son J.J. was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in February.  He turned five in July.

“He’s got a good prognosis,” said J.J.’s mom Carrie. “He’s in the 85 to 90 percent range. It’s the other bit that keeps you up at night.”

J.J.’s six-year old sister Myah carried a sign she made that spoke for the whole family:  “I hope J.J.’s leukemia goes away.”

“We hate the reason for having to be here,” said Carrie. “But I feel the support already.”

Robyn Thomas from the “#mamathomas” team laughed as her daughter Gwyn helped tie her red “Survivor” Superman cape around her shoulders.

“On October 13 I was two years in remission from Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” she said.  She carries a white lantern as a survivor, but also a gold lantern for her mother, Sue Roddy.

“I went into remission and my mother was diagnosed.  She had multiple myeloma and passed away just over a year ago.”

It’s Robyn’s third Light The Night Walk, and she’s proud of her team’s fundraising. “Last year it was $2,000 and we decided to double it to $4,000. We’re right at it.”

As another Light The Night ended teams gathered for final photos.  One family walked as “Team Curt” to honor Curt Lindstrom.

“My dad,” said Carley Lindstrom, “We just lost him September 2.  Stage four non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.”

During Curt’s battle with lymphoma Carley became a volunteer on the LLS Executive Committee and participated in the LLS Man and Woman of the Year.

Her father faced an uncertain journey.  They fought together as a family with confidence.  Their faith in finding a cure is unshaken, but this Light The Night was poignant.

“We held a gold lantern this year,” she said. “We were really hoping it would be red.”


Gift card winner Sharon Holdheide

FORT LORAMIE, Ohio – Sharon Holdheide is one of the hundreds of Fort Loramie donors who help make the Community Blood Center blood drives at St. Michael’s Hall the largest in Shelby County.  But she’s the only St. Michael’s donor to claim the grand prize in the “Build a Better Blood Supply Summer Blood Drive” campaign.

Everyone who registered to donate blood with CBC from May 29 through Sept. 1 was automatically entered in the drawing to win the $5,000 home improvement gift card.  By the end of summer there were nearly 19,000 entries.

Sharon entered the drawing when she donated June 19 at the St. Michael’s Hall “Country Fun Blood Drive.”  It was her 69th lifetime blood donation, and it turned out to be very lucky. Her name was randomly chosen by computer as the contest winner.

“I started donating blood when I was 16 years old,” said Sharon.  “My dad always donated and encouraged us to as well. Those of us that could always tried to help out.”

Her husband Dave also came from a family of donors, and their children Emily and Alan donate.

“It always felt great to hit a gallon milestone and to know we were helping someone out,” said Sharon. “We might need blood sometime and I’ll sure be glad someone donated to save one of our lives.”

CBC’s Kathy Pleiman presented the $5,000 Lowe’s gift card to Sharon and her daughter Emily at the Oct. 16 St. Michael’s Hall blood drive.  Neighbors and Fort Loramie Community Service Club volunteers celebrated her good fortune.

“Shut the front door!” exclaimed Chandra Goubeaux. “That’s awesome. Somebody we know!”

“That’s exciting,” said Angie DeMange. “I don’t know why I play the lottery. I never win!”

The goal of the “Build a Better Blood Supply” blood drive was to help CBC maintain a steady blood supply through the challenging summer months.  That mission was accomplished with more than 16,000 units donated. Now the grand prize will help the Holdheide family make some home improvements.

“It’s very exciting,” said Sharon. “We walked around Lowe’s one Sunday afternoon for a couple of hours and got a couple of ideas.  We’re going to do some new hardwood flooring, and get something for Emily who just bought a house.

“They’re going to give me a lawn mower, which is good because I need one!” said Emily as she donated at St. Michael’s.  “I’ve been borrowing theirs!”

The St. Michael’s fall blood drive reached 100 percent of the collection goal with 235 donors, including 230 whole blood donations and 15 platelet and plasma donations.


Houston High Leadership Grant

HOUSTON, Ohio – Houston High is a small school with a big heart and a culture where caring for others comes first. Community Blood Center has awarded a $1,000 High School Leadership Grant to Houston for outstanding blood drive participation in the 2017-2018 school year.

CBC’s Kathy Pleiman presented the grant for “Second Highest Percentage of Enrollment Donating” to Principal Ryan Maier and Spanish Circle Club advisor Deanna Chappie at their Oct. 5 fall blood drive.

“It speaks volumes about the kids,” said Principal Maier. “They’re a caring group of kids who genuinely care for each other. We had a student with lymphoma who graduated last year. He was a track athlete and he made a full recovery. It had a direct impact on our kids’ hearts.”

With an enrollment of 372 students, Houston is one of the smallest of the 113 high schools in CBC’s 15-county region. Houston has hosted a spring blood drive, sponsored by the National Honor Society, since 2012. Last year it added a fall blood drive, sponsored by the Spanish Circle Club.

The fall and spring blood drives totaled 119 donors, 38 first-time donors and 91 donations. Houston High School was second only to Seton Catholic High School with 157 percent of its eligible students participating in the school’s two blood drives.

“I appreciate the work of Stephanie Merickel, our NHS advisor,” said Maier. “Her kids were able to start it, and the idea of going another time was brought up by Deanna Chappie, our Spanish Circle advisor. Great teachers, great families doing the right stuff – they genuinely care.”

It’s not the first CBC honor for Houston.  Class of 2016 graduate Maya Wills won a CBC/Vectren Lead The Way scholarship for her “Share Your Life… Share Your Blood” campaign. Her slogan and original artwork became the design for CBC’s high school blood drive t-shirt in the fall of 2016.

“We are a small school, but I like to think we’re pretty kind and we think of others,” said senior Mason Brewer who made his fourth lifetime donation at the fall blood drive. “It’s really different these days. A small school is like a small family.”

Mason’s dedication has had a ripple effect at Houston blood drives.  He encouraged both his sister Madalynn and his friend Michael Mayse to donate for the first time Friday.

“I was like really scared and didn’t want to do it,” said Madalynn. “But he said, ‘No you’re fine. You’re saving lives and it’s OK.’”

“He convinced me and I set my mind to it,” said Michael, a senior classmate of Mason’s. “The fact that’s it’s going to save people, that’s the main reason.”

“I donate because my grandfather had multiple surgeries,” Mason said. “I do it because it’s the right thing to do.”

Friday’s fall blood drive totaled 51 donors, including 22 first-time donors and 43 donations for 108 percent of goal.

Madalynn Brewer


Robyn Essman 375 LTD

Beavercreek donor Robyn Essman likes to do things by the numbers. It comes natural for a retired budget director for Columbus and Dayton Public Schools. It was by the numbers that she made her routine platelet appointment for Sept. 25 at the Dayton Community Blood Center and completed her milestone 375th lifetime donation.

By the numbers, Robyn ranks fourth in lifetime donation among women donors at CBC.

Robyn’s inspiration to be a “Donor for Life” came from her father, a Dayton firefighter. “I was probably 19,” she said. “I started donating when my dad had a heart attack. He couldn’t donate anymore, and he said, ‘If I can’t donate I have to have someone to take my place.’ That’s when I started.”

She’s been a loyal platelet donor since 1998. “When I started donating platelets, we were upstairs, on the old machines with two arms,” she said, recalling when apheresis was on a separate floor at the Dayton CBC, and used early technology for donating platelets and plasma with needle and tubing in each arm.

Robyn and her husband Norm have been married 40 years. Her professional career includes working for the Dayton Public Library, 16 years with Dayton Public Schools and the last eight years with Columbus Public Schools.

Her donations are by the numbers, twice a month for the maximum 24 platelet donations a year. She reached her milestone with her 16th donation of 2018.

“I used to come on Thursdays,” she said. “When I took the job in Columbus I came on Saturdays, and I still come every other Saturday. When I have too many they bump me off the schedule!”

She’s proud of her nephew, a junior at Chaminade-Julienne High School, for wanting to donate. “He’ll donate in the spring, after football season,” she said.

“I always tell him, for me it’s a good deed you can do that doesn’t cost you anything – and it’s healthy! It’s just a good deed.”

By the numbers, she will likely reach 400 lifetime donations in one year.  Only about 19 CBC donors – male and female – have reached that milestone. That adds up to many good deeds.


Fairmont High Leadership Awards

Community Blood Center awarded $2,000 in High School Leadership grants to Fairmont High School in Kettering as the region’s top high school in both blood drive participation and donor loyalty for the second consecutive year.

CBC awards $1,000 High School Leadership grants annually in five categories. Fairmont won the top category of “Most Donors” among the 113 high schools in CBC’s 15-county region that hosted 217 blood drives during the 2017-2018 school year.

Fairmont also won the category of “Red Cord Excellence” for the highest numbers of graduating seniors who frequently supported blood drives. They qualify for the Red Cord Honor Program by registering to donate at least three times during their high school years.

It was the second consecutive year Fairmont has won the “Most Donors” grant and the third consecutive year it has won the “Red Cord Excellence” grant.

“Obviously this is working well at Fairmont,” said Fairmont Activities Coordinator Corey Miller. “We have a ton of support from not only our staff and students, but also our Allied Health classes and our United Student Body volunteers.”

Corey credits Fairmont’s recruitment system. “We send an information packet to every kid that is eligible to donate,” she said. “We don’t just make an announcement in the office.”

The packet includes consent forms, appointment schedule, and preparation tips for making a successful donation. “Everyone gets one for every drive,” said Corey.

Fairmont’s 2017-2018 blood drives totaled 416 donors, including 161 first-time donors and 324 donations for 101 percent of collection goals.  Fairmont’s class of 2018 had 119 Red Cord graduates.

Fairmont’s first blood drive of the 2018-2019 school year will be Oct. 26.

The 2017-2018 High School Leadership grant winners include: Seton Catholic High School for “Highest Percentage of Enrollment Donating,” Houston High School for “Second Highest Percentage of Enrollment Donating,” and Central Catholic High School for “Most Improved.”


Fran pink afghan 2018

Blood donor, afghan artist, and CBC friend Fran Duell is reminding us all to keep focused on October National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

She’s been focused for months on creating a new awareness afghan and having it ready for Oct. 1.

“I think of my sister a lot. She’s been gone since 2001,” said Fran about the sister she lost to breast cancer. She honors her with the annual tradition of creating a special pink afghan for a donor drawing at the Dayton CBC Donor Center.

It was her sister who first inspired Fran to begin knitting afghan throw blankets to help charitable causes.  “My sister was involved with Daybreak (a shelter for runaway teens),” she said.  “They had a golf tournament coming up and said ‘Why don’t you make an afghan for a prize?’ That was for Daybreak in the summer of ‘95 and I’ve been making afghans for charities ever since.”

This labor of love took on additional meaning for Fran after she lost her husband Joe to lymphoma.  October is when the CBC/CTS team throws its support behind the annual Dayton Light The Night fundraising walk for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Some 500 afghans later Fran continues to crochet with loving care for CBC and for many Miami Valley charities and special events.

Fran manages to maintain traditional designs – especially the pink for the fight against cancer – but introduces some new wrinkles.  This year’s October Breast Cancer Month afghan starts with dark pinks on one end and fades into white at the other end.

“I always start with my darkest-colored yarn,” she said. “This time I kept using what I had, and when I ran out and change to the next color.  When I ran out of pink I used white.  It’s more white yarn than I’ve used in a while but I like it.”


Dracula scares Abby Hern.JPG

VANDALIA, Ohio – It must be Halloween season in the Miami Valley if vampires are visiting Vandalia.  Dracula flew by Vandalia-Butler High School Sept. 28 to check out the menu at the Aviators’ blood drive.

Vandalia’s Morgan Brazie, a volunteer with the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance, donned the count’s black tuxedo and blood-red cape to mingle with donors.  He gave longing looks to plump blood bags and recently-wrapped arms as he posed for photos with student donors and volunteers, but minded his manners.

The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance is partnering with Community Blood Center to promote blood donations and the Dayton Ballet, Dayton Opera and Dayton Philharmonic production of “Dracula: Bloodlines” coming up Oct. 25-28 at the Victoria Theater.

Everyone who registered to donate at the blood drive received a voucher for a “buy one ticket, get one ticket” offer to see “Dracula: Bloodlines.”  Vouchers will also be available through the Drama Club.

“Just hearing about opera in general makes me want to go!” said Drama Club officer Abby Hern after getting a visit from Dracula as she donated. “I think the ballet, opera and orchestra can be an interesting blend as long as it’s done right and people enjoy it.”

“This classic tale is the perfect setting for a story ballet in the haunting month of October,” said DPAA Promotions Manager Sherry Wells. “The full artistic force of the DPAA comes together for an evening of drama and beauty perfect for the autumn season.”

Dracula also visited Elizabeth Koerner, also a member of the Drama Club, and a first-time blood donor. “It always seemed like something I should do,” said Elizabeth.

Dracula also posed with the Student Congress volunteers and advisor Kathy Baker as they received the Community Blood Center Red Cord Honor School award from CBC’s Cora Johnson.  The volunteers stocked the Donor Café with extra refreshments and handed out t-shirts and Dracula: Bloodlines vouchers.

“They have to work during their lunches for two days to get sign-ups for the blood drive,” said Kathy. “They set-up, get everything reserved and get things organized, and sign-up to work part of the day today.”

Count Dracula was a cordial guest who resisted any urges to take a bite out of the collections for the day.  The blood drive totaled 66 donors, including 32 first-time donors and 51 donations for 102 percent of the collection goal.

Vandalia Butler HS Red Cord 2018-19