EATON, Ohio – The big bronze McShane church bell in front of the Eaton Fire Division doesn’t clang about calamity anymore as it did back in 1881, but don’t let the silence fool you. It’s now a treasure trove of three Poke Balls, all up for grabs to any Pokemon Go players at the Thursday, July 21 Eaton Fire and EMS blood drive.
Pokemon Go is the gamer sensation sweeping the nation, so no wonder it has blood drive bearing. Community Blood Center chooses notable public places for community blood drives, and so does Pokemon Go.
The free app for your mobile device unites the cute characters from the old Pokemon video game with your phone’s GPS to create an augmented reality. Players track down designated PokeStops – like the Eaton Fire Division bell – and capture Poke Balls that appear on their device screen.
“We’ve heard our station is a Pokemon Go stop, right by our bell,” said Eaton EMS Lt. Leeann Matthews. “You can get three balls there!”
Leeann admits to focusing more on getting people than Pokemons to the blood drive. She worked in the Donor Café were her daughter Mekayla and her mom Debbie Buell, who also donated. “I recruited them to help,” she said.
Three Poke Balls may be quite a haul, but what really counted was the blood drive support. The blood drive totaled 53 donor registrations and 39 blood donations.
Hannah Wray, a 2016 Eaton High School graduate, is familiar with Pokemon Go, but didn’t come to the blood drive for Poke Balls. “My dad is an Eaton police officer. We were going to donate together, but he got called in,” she said.
Hannah was a CBC Red Cord Honor graduate at Eaton and made her fourth lifetime donation Thursday. In the fall she’ll be a freshman pre-med student at Louisiana State University. She’s had reconstructive surgery on both knees from soccer injures, and that inspired her to study sports medicine and orthopedics.
CBC phlebotomist Mikala Berry has the Pokemon Go app on her smartphone. West Lexington Road appeared on her screen and a quick swipe with her finger sent a picture of the bell spinning. That’s all it took to capture the Poke Balls. The app also revealed that she could find a Pokemon gym (a “battle” location for teams of players) at the Eaton Church of the Brethren, which hosted a blood drive in May.
But donors like Camden’s Lloyd Cross find it much more challenging to chase milestones instead of Poke Balls. Lloyd is 88 years old and has 248 lifetime donations – the equivalent of 31 gallons. For Lloyd, teasing his wife Jean is more fun than any video game.
“For 65 years, she’s been following me around,” he said. Jean quickly put him in his place with, “And that’s why I need a halo!”