Oakwood’s Bob Montenegro always has his Kindle e-reader as a companion during his long platelet donations at the Dayton Community Blood Center, but he didn’t need it during his Monday, Aug. 8 visit. Two lifelong passions converged as he watched live coverage of a U.S. vs France tennis match from the Rio Olympics on the Donor Room television while making his milestone 400th lifetime blood donation.
“I don’t know how I got started,” Bob said of his Donor for Life journey. “I donated when I was in high school in Brooklyn, New York, then at places I worked, and when I was a private in the Army. It stuck with me.”
Donating “stuck” with Bob, and so did tennis. He came to the Miami Valley 35 years ago when he first went to work for the French tennis racquet company Babolat. “They were the first company to make strings specifically for tennis racquets back in the 1800’s,” he said with obvious pride.
“They hired me to set-up operations in the U.S. I though Ohio and Dayton was a logical place to set it up because it was central out of Dayton and I could travel around the U.S.”
Bob’s been a loyal CBC donor for more than 25 years, and has been donating platelets since 1997. Bob and his wife Joan have been married for 27 years and combined have six children and 10 grandchildren.
Bob has retired from Babolat, but keeps in touch with colleagues, including a recent trip to the French Open. He says his competitive tennis days are in the past, but he introduced Joan to the game and they continue to play socially.
He’s donated in half a dozen states, and made a rare whole blood donation in Mexico. “We were spending the winter there,” he said. “They had an emergency and needed blood. That was in the past year. In the past they said I was too old to donate, but suddenly I wasn’t too old!”
He loves the game of tennis and plays twice a week. He’s dedicated to giving platelets at least twice a month. Yet it’s hard for him to put the reason for his dedication to donating into words.
“I don’t know,” he said. “For me, it’s a way of giving back for a good life. We’ve been very fortunate. It’s a quiet, almost silent way of helping others.”