Tony Lehman 100 LTD jackeet

Centerville donor Tony Lehman is in it for the long haul.  He’s a marathon runner who wants to complete a 26.2 miler in every state.  He’s also a “Donor for Life” who crossed the finish line of his 100th lifetime blood donation Jan. 16 at the Dayton Community Blood Center.

Tony tries to average four whole blood donations a year. He made five donations in 2017 and reached his milestone with his first donation of 2018.  He had the satisfied looked of a runner making a victory lap.

“It means that I’ve been able to contribute something to society,” Tony said. “It’s something I can do, and it’s being used for some good. Not everyone can, but I’m able to.”

For the record, Tony now has 100 donations with CBC.  “My original donation was in ’93 when I lived in Fort Wayne,” he said.  “My actual total is 118.  I started donating with CBC in ’98 when I moved to Centerville.”

Tony works in commercial real estate and takes advantage of a flexible schedule to keep his consistent donation schedule.  He’s motivated because he knows his blood type is O positive, the universal donor type for all Rh positive patients.

Staying healthy has been a big part of reaching 100 donations, and he must balance his donations with his training and racing.  “I don’t donate when I’m getting ready to run a marathon,” he said. “I’m trying to run a marathon in every state and I have 18 to go! My last one was in November in Philadelphia, and my plan is to run one in Salt Lake City on April 21.”

But first he will take time to celebrate. “I’m thinking of a big steak dinner tonight!” he said. Tony and his wife Toni have three daughters, and the oldest is also a blood donor.

He’s quick to acknowledge the cuteness of being part of a “Tony and Toni” couple. “All our emails start with ‘TNT’ for Tony ‘n Toni,” he said. “We’re dynamite, baby!”


Donna Agee


DAYTON, Ohio – Through every hardship, Donna Agee and her daughter Dawn had each other. Donna was a single mom whose only child was born with cystic fibrosis. The fragile little girl was not expected to see kindergarten. She lived to graduate high school, but no more.  It was only natural that a daughter’s dying wish became their bond of blood.

“When she was born, she was having problems but we didn’t know what it was until two weeks before she was a year old,” said Donna. “They told us she probably wouldn’t live past the age of five or six.  They didn’t know that much about CF at that time. They’ve come a long way.”

Dawn came a long way.  As she grew with the disease, Donna made sure every birthday party was a full celebration because of the uncertainty of how many more might come.

“The summer before her high school graduation at Chaminade-Julienne, that’s when they take their senior pictures, and she looked great,” said Donna. “But as the school year went on she was pale and thin and got sicker and sicker.”

Dawn was frail when she graduated with her classmates.  “She was in the hospital a lot the last couple of years, and I couldn’t be there a lot because I had to work,” said Donna. “She started having fevers and losing weight. I think she got tired, to be honest.”

“I apologized to her the night before she died. I said I wanted to feel like I did everything possible for you,” said Donna. “She had IV’s, a feeding tube and oxygen going in here and she said, ‘I just want all this off of me and taken back up to my room.’”

Dawn’s doctors wanted her to receive a blood transfusion. But she made an unexpected request. “They said Donna, she wants a blood transfusion but doesn’t want anybody’s blood but yours,” Donna said.  “I talked to her and convinced her to get the transfusion and promised I would go give blood the next day, so it would be there in case she needed it.”

“Having that blood really helped her. She became chipper, sat on the bed with me and planned her funeral with me. That night she passed away. I watch her take her last breath. The next day I went and donated blood and I continue to donate because of her.  That’s how I became a blood donor.”

Donna is also an organ donor because of Dawn.  “She wanted to donate her organs but she was so full of infection, they couldn’t use anything,” said Donna. “But her beautiful blue eyes went to the University of Florida to be used for research into diabetic blindness. They told us she was able to help a lot of people.”

“She was very giving person as young as she was, to her friends,” said Donna.

Dawn lives in Donna’s in heart. She remains the little girl blowing out birthday candles, the teen in a prom dress on the verge of womanhood, her companion through whatever would come.  “She never learned to drive,” said Donna. “She always wanted me to drive her. We were good together.”


Debora Kremer Smith 100 LTD

GREENVILLE, Ohio – The life-sustaining cycle of giving and receiving blood is well known in the North Star’s Kremer family. A legacy of hemophilia across three generations has been a challenge and an inspiration.  It gave Debora Kremer Smith a particular sense of pride when she made her milestone 100th lifetime blood donation Jan. 9 at the Greater Greenville Ministerial Association blood drive.

Debora’s parents Carl and Carolyn Kremer raised a family of four on their dairy farm in North Star.  Debora’s brothers Dan and Kevin are both hemophiliacs.   A generation later, Debora’s sons Paul and Dean, ages 18 and 14, are hemophiliacs as well.

Dan and Kevin grew up in time when the clotting disorder was not well understood and treatments were still developing. It meant many journeys to Dayton in the dark of night for emergency care during bleeding incidents.

But it was also an opportunity for the community to learn about hemophilia and respond to the family by supporting blood drives.  At age 80, Carolyn has 118 lifetime donations and wants to keep donating. Debora followed her mom’s example as a donor, and became a nurse.

“I went to the Miami Valley School of Nursing, and those three years in school I was very consistent donating,” said Debora. She worked at Mercer Hospital in Coldwater and gave birth to her daughter Carla.  The challenge of raising two hemophiliac sons gave her a better understanding of what her mother faced.

“It was much easier than for my mother, but you still fear the big injury,” said Debora. “Boys are boys.”

Paul and Dean were able to play CYO basketball and fell in love with swimming, with coaching from their dad.

It’s sobering to know that the Kremer family can never completely ignore the heritage of hemophilia.  The disorder is a recessive trait passed on through the females. Dan’s daughter recently gave birth to a son, and he is a hemophiliac.

A generational change in the treatment is the wide use of factor concentrates that don’t have to come from human plasma donations.  “My boys’ treatment has been a protein that is artificial,” said Debora. “They don’t have to have the protein from plasma anymore.  My brothers would have blood donated for them.”

That circle of giving and receiving that made their community especially interconnected. For Debora, it’s a connection grown only stronger over the Donor for Life journey of 100 donations.



Piqua Knights of St. John1

As we march forward into the New Year we shouldn’t forget to thank sisters Brenda Bierly Reichard and Gail Bierly for adding their special holiday touch to the Dec. 28 Knights of St. John blood drive in Piqua.

The “pre-New Year’s” celebration was a fun theme and the holiday refreshments in the Donor Café were a big hit!  It was a true party, complete with homemade cookies, cheese balls, and sausages steaming in barbecue sauce, plus meat and cheese trays, and bags of caramel popcorn.

The blood drive was busy with 45 donors and 34 donations for 97 percent of collection goal, so their generosity was much appreciated.  Brenda and Gail were volunteer hosts, chatting with donors and serving the refreshments.

The inspiration came from their mother. “They said they grew up with a mom who always knew how to do things for other people,” said CBC’s Dana Puterbaugh.  The cookies came from their mom’s favorite recipe.

The sisters live in Greenville and both are dedicated blood donors. “Brenda happened to be at the OSU blood drive and said ‘Do you ever need anyone to help with blood drives?” said Dana.  She suggested the Knights of St. John blood drive and they quickly agreed, happy to go wherever there might be a need.  They saw it as an opportunity to honor their mother.

“Our mother was a resident of Brethren Retirement,” said Brenda. “I think around 1998, she found her chair lift remote and lifted herself to the point she fell out.  She broke her femur resulting in the need of blood.  That was actually the first time I was introduced to donating blood.”

Brenda has 69 lifetime donations and Gail has 107, and both are blood type O positive.  Both donated most recently at the Darke County Lions Clubs Teddy Bears & Friends Blood Drive on Dec. 12. It was Brenda’s sixth donation of the year and the fifth of the year for Gail.

“It’s a warm and cozy feeling when I receive the call stating where and when my blood was used,” said Brenda, who is also a kidney donor.  “If there’s a need and I can help out, I will!”

Piqua Knights of St. John2


Ivan Patterson 500 LTD celebration

GREENVILLE, Ohio – Greenville donor Ivan Patterson could think of no better way of closing out his milestone 90th year of life than with a milestone gift of life.  Ivan made his 500th lifetime blood donation at the Greenville Ministerial Association blood drive Jan. 9 at the Greenville Church of the Brethren.

Ivan is a pioneer platelet and plasma donor with Community Blood Center and a member of the original LifeLeaders apheresis team.  He declared two years ago, “My goal is to get to 500 during the year that I turn 90!” and he kept his promise.

He first donated in 1945 at age 18 and his 500th donation comes less than a month before his 91st birthday celebration on Feb. 7.  He drew closer to his goal by making 21 platelet and plasma donations in 2017. His milestone came on his first donation of 2018.

“I didn’t worry about it,” Ivan said about accomplishing his goal. “The last five years I’ve been more consistent about doing it. I first gave platelets in 1976. That was when they took blood from one arm and put it back in the other.”

Two years ago Ivan pulled out his oldest CBC t-shirt to wear to “T-Shirt Day” at the Great Darke County Fair.  It reads, “I Got This T-Shirt Because I’m an Apheresis LifeLeader – First Apheresis LifeLeader Event, June 28, 1992.”

“There’s no replacement for blood,” Ivan told the Greenville Daily Advocate. “It’s helping people the only way they can get help. It doesn’t cost anything except time.”

Ivan was born in Trotwood. He co-founded Korrect Plumbing, Heating & Air in 1950 at the age of 23 and married his wife Clara a month later. They raised six children, and now have 15 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren with two more due this spring.

He developed Korrect into one of the region’s largest plumbing service businesses before retiring in 1997. The company is still family-owned and operated.  “You know how many heating and plumbing calls they got during this cold weather?” he noted, “Over 900!”

Ivan and Clara have lived at Chestnut Village at the Brethren Retirement Community in Greenville since 1998.  The family opened the Korrect Foundation in 2014 to honor Ivan’s 65 years in business and encourage employees to request grants for charitable causes.

He is proud to have served on more than a dozen charitable boards, many with the Oakland and Bear Creek congregations of the Church of the Brethren.

He’s now Darke County’s oldest active blood donor, a testimony to his longevity.  Both his father and uncle died of heart disease before the age of 60.

“I don’t worry,” said Ivan. “Worry doesn’t solve anything. Good food, good health, good wife and six children. Always work. Up at six, home at six and in bed by 11.”

“He’s just amazing,” said donor Denise Miller, whose mother is a Chestnut Village neighbor. “He’s 90 years old, but they drive to Dayton when he donates there. He’s always busy.”

“Are you going to continue to give, maybe not as often?” asked donor Dixie Halderman as Ivan sat with Clara in the Donor Café.

“You always have to have a goal,” Ivan replied. “My next goal is to reach 600 donations by age 95.”

“Relax, you’re old!” said Clara.  “That’s why I’m relaxed,” Ivan said with a smile.

Ivan Patterson


Tony, Megan, Toni, Joe

DAYTON, Ohio – Running the long race, championing the environment, giving blood to help save lives – that was all part of life’s journey for Harold O’Connell. His reputation remained “Harold Strong” at the seventh annual “Harold O’Connell Memorial Blood Drive” Jan. 4 at the Dayton Community Blood Center.

Harold was a Pied Piper for fitness among his colleagues at the Dayton office of the Ohio EPA.  They were bewildered by his sudden collapse and death from a heart attack after finishing the Tadmor 10K Road Race at the Taylorsville MetroPark in 2011.

Harold was also a cheerleader for blood donations, so his friends were inspired to fill his shoes by donating the blood he would continue to give if still alive.  The first Harold O’Connell Memorial Blood Drive was in January of 2012 – timed with National Blood Donor Month – and his memory remains strong.

More than 23 supporters signed the registry in Harold’s honor.  They helped boost the day’s whole blood collections at the Dayton Donor Center to 65 registrations and 58 donations for 138 percent of the collection goal.

“He’s sorely missed,” said Harold’s former EPA colleague Terry Sanner. “He was one of the good ones. He always had a smile on his face. Old friends speak highly of Harold and they want to do something good.”

An opportunity to do good came with the first blood drive in Harold’s memory and the tradition keeps growing.  Over the years, some of his friends have retired from EPA; but new staff members like Toni Carmichael and Megan Shortridge represent a new generation of blood drive supporters.

“I worked with Harold,” said Tom Schneider. “My first donation was at the first blood drive for him. Today is my 24th.”

Harold’s friend and colleague Michelle Waller donated next to Tom and congratulated him. “That’s three gallons!” she said. “Some just keep coming!”


Susan Leugers Hall of Fame Induction

BOTKINS, Ohio – Botkins donor Susan Leugers didn’t hesitate when she saw her named etched on the crystal blood drop award honoring her as 2017 member of the Fresenius Kabi National Donation Hall of Fame.  “I’m going to put this with all of Chelsea’s cheerleader trophies,” she said.

Susan’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony came during the third annual Chelsea Lukey Memorial Blood Drive, held Tuesday, Jan. 2 at Immaculate Conception Church.  It was a tribute to both Susan and her daughter Chelsea, who was just 22 when she lost her battle with pancreatic cancer in 2010.

Susan organized the first blood drive in Chelsea’s memory in 2016.  Photos of Chelsea in her 2006 Botkins High School cheerleader uniform became a familiar tribute. Community Blood Center nominated Susan for the 2017 Hall of Fame because of her success hosting the blood drives early in the New Year, when blood is often in short supply.

Tuesday’s blood drive was the first of 2018 for CBC, and the challenge of the season proved even tougher than expected.  The temperature plunged to 15 below zero in Botkins, forcing schools to remain closed, keeping kids home for an extended holiday break.  The daytime high reached only eight degrees.

Despite the chill, 88 donors came to honor Susan and Chelsea. Their 79 donations topped last year’s total.  The blood drive soared to 120 percent of the collection goal, giving extra warmth to the Hall of Fame celebration.

“I went through Thanksgiving and Christmas without here,” said Susan. “It’s lonely without her.  But this is the first event for her. I feel like she was here.  It was a celebration that included her.”

Fresenius Kabi account representative Anthony Montemurro celebrated Susan by presenting the award and honoring her dedication to encouraging blood donations. “The number of new donors she brought in, it’s a big thing,” he said. “The trend across the U.S. is the donor base getting older and in a lot of cases, they are beginning to need transfusions. We have to fill a lot of shoes of the people who have been committed donors.”

“We knew Chelsea, she graduated with our granddaughter,” said Botkins donor Nancy Behr. “We ran into Susan and she said, ‘Now you’re coming again this year?’ and we said, ‘Yes, we’ll be there!’”

“I’m friends with Suze,” said Laura Booth as she completed her donation. “The first blood drive for Chelsea, I couldn’t give. I came from work and waited an hour, but they couldn’t take any more people. Botkins is a good community. Small towns really turn out for their own.”

Only one task remained for Susan to complete the tribute to her daughter, her home town and her cause.  She scheduled herself for the final appointment of the blood drive and made her 136th lifetime donation.

Donation Hall of Fame inductee Susan Leugers