Vicki Kemmerer 100 LTD.JPG

Belmont donor Vicki Kemmerer was once a “California girl,” chasing fruit flies for a living as an agriculture expert in the vineyards of the Napa Valley.   But her home base in the Miami Valley is where she chose to retire, and it’s where she made her “vintage” 100th lifetime blood donation Feb. 27 at the Dayton Community Blood Center.

“I knew it was coming,” she said of her milestone donation. “You never know about hemoglobin. It was too low the last time I tried. But I have something I can give to somebody.”

Vicki is a “universal donor” with blood type O negative, which any patient in need can receive. She’s also a CMV-negative donor, meaning she has not been exposed to the cytomegalovirus.  Hospitals prefer CMV-negative units for children and especially newborns.

Vicki grew up in Kettering and moved to California as a teen.  Her “Donor for Life” journey to 100 donations began at age 19 while attending College of the Desert in Cathedral City.  “The first time I donated, I fainted!” she said.

She finished her degree in biology at San Francisco State University.  She found herself on an unexpected career path when the Mediterranean fruit fly invaded California.

“They needed biologists,” she said. “It was my job to place traps, move them around, and catch fruit flies. It was so much fun! I got to be outdoors all the time.”

The job was my no means “fruitless.”  She rose in the ranks to become Deputy Agricultural Commissioner in Napa County.  She spent more than 20 years watchdogging the agricultural industry and enforcing environmental standards.

After retiring in 2010 she moved back home to care for her mother, who will be 87 in April.  She has two daughters – one in California and the other in South Carolina – and two grandchildren.

“I loved the weather,” she said about the California life. “But when you first move there from Ohio you wonder ‘Where’s all the green?’ Everything seems brown.  I like to have four seasons.”

Vicki stays busy with volunteer work.  She’s the treasurer of the Centerville Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association and edits the newsletter for the Hadassah Dayton Chapter of the Women’s Zionist Organization of America.

She also plans to keep donating.  “You can help someone else,” she said. “I might as well give it away!”


Rep. Stephen Huffman, son Jack at CJ blood drive

COLUMBUS, Ohio – January is now “Blood Donor Awareness Month” in the state of Ohio.  Supporters say the recognition from this new legislation will raise awareness about the necessity of blood donations, encourage more people to donate, and honor donors for helping save lives across the state.

House Bill 252 was introduced by Rep. Stephen Huffman (R-Tipp City) who guided it through unanimous approval in both the House and Senate and to the desk of Gov. John Kasich who signed it into law on Feb. 8.  Rep. Huffman is chairman of the House Health Committee, an emergency room physician, and a life-long blood donor.

Rep. Huffman enlisted proponent testimony for the legislation from Community Blood Center in Dayton and the Ohio Association of Blood Banks. He has 55 lifetime donations with CBC, the equivalent of nearly seven gallons of blood. He is a “Universal Donor” whose O negative blood type can go to any patient in need.

“My mom and dad gave blood,” said Rep. Huffman. “When I was a resident I saw how important it was to give. I donated directly for my son Will when he was born 12 weeks premature. I appreciate what Community Blood Center does for my patients and others. I was happy to be able to donate for my son, and to all others in need of blood.”

The act states, “The month of January is designated as ‘Blood Donor Awareness Month’ to increase public awareness of the need for blood donations, to encourage the public to give blood, and to recognize the lifesaving contributions of blood and platelet donors.”

”I was proud to sponsor this legislation,” said Rep. Huffman. It is my sincere hope that it will make a difference, that it will inspire our citizens to act, and it will most importantly save lives every day across our great state.”

CBC Donor Relations Director Andrew Keelor, OABB board member Dr. Elizabeth Biller, Beavercreek blood donor Judy LaMusga and Botkins blood donor Susan Leugers all testified in support of Ohio Blood Donor Awareness Month.

The bill received unanimous bipartisan support. The House approved the bill 93-0 on Sept. 20, 2017 and the Senate approved it 32-0 on Jan. 30 before Gov. Kasich’s signature.

Rep. Huffman spoke about Ohio Blood Donor Awareness Month during a visit to the Feb. 23 Chaminade Julienne High School blood drive. His son Jack, a sophomore, made his first lifetime donation.

“We have a growing need to get the young people involved,” Rep. Huffman said. “To teach them that it’s easy to start giving blood as part of service to others.”


Chaminade Julienne HS Unity volunteers

DAYTON, Ohio – February is always blood drive month at Chaminade Julienne High School, but this year’s event on Feb. 23 took on new meaning. It marked CJ’s first “Unity in the Community Blood Drive.”

CJ and Carroll High are the latest “team of rivals” to join the Unity in the Community Campaign sponsored by Universal 1 Credit Union and Community Blood Center.  It’s a chance for rival high schools to save lives by hosting blood drives and improve lives in the community by naming a recipient of the $1,000 Unity Award.

The Unity Campaign began with rivals Miamisburg and West Carrollton High Schools in 2014, followed by Archbishop Alter and Fairmont High Schools in 2015.  Universal 1 pledges the $1,000 award to the schools for hosting blood drives.  The schools then alternate identifying a charity to receive the annual award.

CJ and Carroll got their first Unity Campaign off the ground CJ by presenting the Unity award during halftime of their Feb 11 basketball game.  CJ was the home team and chose the “Brigid’s Path” treatment center as this year’s recipient. Brigid’s Path opened in the fall of 2017 in Kettering and is now providing inpatient care for babies suffering from prenatal drug exposure.

“I think it’s a good idea. I loved it,” said CJ blood drive coordinator Angela Ruffolo. “Instead of competing, it was doing something good together. They loved doing something good for the community. It’s not about the rivalry; it’s about a good deed.”

CJ Student Council sponsors the annual blood drive. They chose Brigid’s Path for the Unity award and rallied support at the presentation. “We had a big student section,” said senior Student Council member Annie Weekesser. “Kids realized how much we’re involved in the community and how this is a really good cause.  I think the Unity campaign showed how we can come together and make a difference.”

Support for the Unity award carried over to the CJ blood drive. “Student Council’s job is to encourage everyone to donate, and let them know how it helps and how many lives you can save,” said Annie.

CJ’s Unity blood drive totaled 91 donors, including 49 first-time donors and 74 donations for 112 percent of the collection goal.

“My dad donates blood,” said junior Anneliese Fisher as she made her first lifetime donation. “I thought it would help someone.”

Carroll will complete the Unity campaign by hosting a Unity blood drive on March 16.


St. Michael's Hall blood drive, donor Rob Huddleston

LORAMIE, Ohio – Blood donors like brothers Eric and Ryan Poeppelman have a strong sense of how something you might take for granted could someday be needed. Temperatures were in the 70’s, a record high for Feb. 20, as Eric and Ryan donated at the St. Michael’s Hall blood drive, where they both received a warm knit beanie from Community Blood Center.

“We can hold onto it until next year,” said Ryan.  “You never know,” said Eric. “It could get cold again!”

St. Michaels’s Hall donors always take the view that you never know when a blood donation will help save a life. In 2017 St. Michael’s three blood drives totaled 800 whole blood donations and 34 platelet and plasma donations.

The 2018 schedule at St. Michael’s is off to another strong start. Tuesday’s blood drive totaled 249 whole blood donors, 10 platelet and plasma donations, and 227 whole blood donations for 119 percent of collection goal.

Community support and family tradition are the bedrock of blood drive success in Fort Loramie and Shelby County. One example is the Hoehne family. Jan Hoehne Stockman is a volunteer at the St. Michael’s blood drives and on Tuesday made a double-red blood cell donation to reach 195 lifetime donations.

“I have five brothers and they are all donors,” Jan said proudly. Eldest brother Jim Hoehne leads the way with 223 lifetime donations.

Jan’s niece Kathy Wilson from Russia made her 66th lifetime donation, and Kathy’s nephew Dustin Schemmel from Fort Loramie made his 28th.   The family bond of donating became even stronger for Dustin after his mother lost her battle with cancer two years ago.

“I would donate in the summers when I was home from school,” said Dustin. “But after that, I try not to miss.”

The Fort Loramie Community Service Club, Fort Loramie American Legion Auxiliary, and Fort Loramie Knights of St. John sponsor the blood drives and make sure donors get their fill of hot sandwiches and fresh-baked cookies in the Donor Café.

As Kathy and Dustin got ready to walk out into the warm sunshine, they wondered when their new knit hats would get some use. “I should have had it when I was snow-blowing a couple weeks ago,” said Kathy.  “I’ll use it,” said Dustin, “but not today!”

Dustin Schemmel, Jan Stockman, Kathy Wilson


Randy Kreill 72 LTD

When Beavercreek ultra-marathoner Randy Kreill ran by the Dayton Community Blood Center on Feb. 16 for his milestone “nine gallon” blood donation, he was bundled up in CBC colors from his head to his fast – and often bare – feet.

Randy arrived wearing the CBC “Be a Deer – Donate Blood” long-sleeve t-shirt he received at his most recent platelet and plasma donation in December. Around his neck he wore the vintage CBC “Blood Donor – Save Lives” scarf from December 2012.  He topped off his “Donor for Life” ensemble with the current “Blood Donor Beanie.”

“I wear it all the time,” said Randy about the beanie as he donated platelets and plasma for his 72nd lifetime donation. “I’m running more winter races. I would always have a problem during the winter with sinusitis.  I cut out eating dairy and I’ve been wearing a hat and I’ve done much better.”

Randy is a cancer survivor who believes in a 100 percent plant food based, vegan diet combined with his passion for ultra-distance running.  He joined the barefoot running movement advocated by “Born to Run” author Christopher McDougall.  He runs all his races in thin, Huarache-style sandals, with one recent exception.

He acquiesced and wore trail running shoes for a 50 kilometer face over frozen, snow-covered trails of Alum Creek State Park north of Columbus in frigid January.

Randy has to strike a balance between his running and donating.  He explained how his donation scheduled slowed a bit due to a particularly active racing schedule in 2017.

“This past year has been the most I’ve ever done,” said Randy. “I ran 13 ultra-marathons in less than 12 months.  Two of the 13 were 100-mile runs.  My goal race is 100 miles.  In the last five years I attempted 10 of those and finished seven.  Sometimes the attempted ones are harder than the ones you finish!

“I average about one a month. Last spring I ran six in 11 weeks. The first and last were 100-milers. I did them all in sandals. I never got a blister, I was injury free.”

Randy’s goals for 2018 include running by the Dayton CBC often enough to achieve his “10 gallon” milestone of 80 lifetime donations.  Go Randy! Born to run, and born to donate!


Newton NHS Be The Red

PLEASANT HILL, Ohio – A year ago Newton High School graduate Aliya Stine envisioned giving blood as a common cause to bridge political discord and bond people together.  Her “Be The Red” campaign not only earned a $1,000 Community Blood Center/Vectren Lead The Way Creative Scholarship, it inspired the CBC high school t-shirt Newton donors received at their Feb. 15 blood drive.

The CBC high school blood drive t-shirt features Aliya’s original drawing of a waving American flag with three red stripes, the others white and grey, and her message, “Without You There’s Only White and Blue – Be The Red.”

Aliya was a member of the National Honor Society, the student sponsor group for Newton blood drives.  Her t-shirt clearly met the “Lead The Way” scholarship challenge of inspiring students to donate.  The blood drive totaled 41 donors, including 18 first-time donors and 34 donations for 126 percent of the collection goal.

“We did put the t-shirt on all the posters and that Aliya designed it, and we did have a full schedule,” said NHS Advisor and blood drive coordinator Taylor Stevens.

“Everyone was aware that Aliya designed the shirt,” said NHS President Kacie Tackett. “Plus this sophomore class had a lot of people turning 16 and they really wanted to donate.”

One of those sophomore donors was NHS member Ethan Gross. “I do like it,” Ethan said about Aliya’s campaign. “I like the ‘Without you there’s only white and blue.’ We basically fill in the red. I always wanted to design a t-shirt, and I think I could design a t-shirt.”

Another sophomore making his first donation was Aliya’s brother Cameron. “She’s creative,” he said. “Like when she was running for NHS, playing sports and coming up with ideas.”

“Be The Red” held a special meaning for Carley Marple, a sophomore inspired to make her first donation at the Newton blood drive. “My dad had leukemia,” said Carley. “He passed away when I was four.”

“To everyone donating, thank you for your donation and for helping someone in need,” said Aliya, who is a Troy native majoring in biology at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. “The political aspect of the design is still a hot topic so I hope it will inspire people to talk about politics and share their opinions,”

The $5,000 Lead The Way Creative Scholarship program is supported by a grant from Vectren.  CBC and Vectren annually award $1,000 in college tuition assistance to five graduating, college-bound seniors whose high school hosts a CBC blood drive.

Applications must be postmarked by April 20. Examples of winning campaigns and the 2018 scholarship application are available at http://www.GivingBlood.org.  For more information contact Cristina Pickle at BloodEducation@GivingBlood.org.


St. Valentine flowers - Kirstie Hunt

GREENVILLE, OHIO – Fresh flowers bring smiles, especially on a winter’s day. The Flower Patch joined with volunteers from Zechar Bailey Funeral Homes in wishing donors a happy St. Valentine’s Day by handing out colorful carnations at the Tuesday, Feb. 13 Zechar Bailey blood drive at the Greenville Church of the Brethren.

The free carnation for everyone who registers to donate has become a tradition at the holiday blood drive.  This year it fell on both the eve of St. Valentine’s Day and on “Fat Tuesday,” the last day of celebrations before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.

“I ask for what we have in appointments, and they just keep the flower deliveries coming,” said Community Blood Center’s Dana Puterbaugh.  It was a full bouquet again this year with flowers for 105 whole blood donors and eight platelet and plasma donors, including 96 whole blood donations for 103 percent of the collection goal.

Charlene Thornhill volunteered to help hand out flowers in the Donor Café while her husband Don, a Zechar Bailey employee, donated platelets.  It was Donn’s 470th lifetime donation and he looks forward to reaching his 500th donation milestone. “That’s my goal,” said Donn. “It’s going to take me a couple of years to do it unless I really push it!”

Judy Fasnacht picked out a dark purple carnation to celebrate her 164th lifetime donation. Judy was CBC’s Darke County account representative from 1978 to 1994.  Tuesday marked her first time donating since a car accident in 2011.

“The reason I have that many is I tried to lead by example,” she said. “I did try to give apheresis when we first started doing it. I thought you can’t ask people to try it if you haven’t done it!”

It was also a happy coincidence for Judy to be able to donate on Fat Tuesday.  She pointed out that her family name Fasnacht means “night before the fast” in her husband’s native Dutch.

“My husband’s family came over to Darke County from the Pennsylvania Dutch, she said.  “They gave up donuts and sweets for the Lenten season.  The tradition was to use up all the fat and eggs to make donuts on Fasnacht.”

The flower was a nice reminder about St. Valentine’s Day for donor Kirstie Hunt, a critical care nurse at Reid Health. “I actually work tomorrow night!” she said.

Some of the men donors had wives and special friends in mind when they received their flower. “Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day,” said Jack Alexander. “I figure I’ll take it home for the wife!”

“I noticed on a Facebook memory from four years ago that I gave a flower to a friend,” said Daniel Cox, a 19-year-old student at Edison State Community College. “I got a message about the blood drive, and I thought I might just surprise her again.”