DAYTON, OHIO – Oakwood donor Glenn Stoops and Theodore Hale are 57 years apart in age, but share a strong bond as blood donors and friends for life. It was fitting that on the day before graduating with honors from Fairmont High School, Theodore would join the man he calls his “elder” on a bike ride to the Dayton Community Blood Center where they would donate side by side.
Their friendship has been a special journey, and their May 25 visit to CBC was a good day to celebrate milestones. It marked their first time donating platelets together. Glenn reached his milestone 300th lifetime donation on April 20, and this visit was his 302nd donation. Theodore began donating platelets in April, and this was his 12th lifetime donation.
Theodore was still bursting with pride from a cascade of honors at the Fairmont High senior awards ceremony. The faculty named him “Firebird of the Year” for excelling in academics, leadership and service, and his classmates voted him “Mr. Fairmont” for his school spirit.
He also received the CBC Red Cord for supporting blood donations during his high school career, and graduates as Fairmont Homecoming King, National Honor Society member and summa cum laude with a 4.0 grade point average. More honors may come this summer when he competes for the 10th year in the Ohio Special Olympics.
“There are a lot of good people at Fairmont,” said Theodore with humility. “I’m pretty happy.” But he quickly shifted praise to his friend Glenn’s 300th donation milestone.
“I respect him as elder,” said Theodore. “He’s really intelligent and has talent. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be biking or donating blood. I respect what he’s taught me in a positive, professional relationship. He respects me and I respect him.”
“Every place I turn, I run into people who know Theodore,” said Glenn. “He knows everybody. He wants to expand his universe.”
GLENN’S ‘DONOR FOR LIFE’ JOURNEY
Glenn’s 300th donation milestone caused him to reflect on his life journey as a blood donor. “May 5 was the 39th anniversary of my bike wreck when a guy ran over me,” he said.
Glenn was on his “normal Saturday morning bike ride” through Kettering when a car ran the red light at the intersection of Stroop and Shroyer. “I flew 20 or 30 feet through the air and when I landed my head hit my hand,” he said. “I broke my hand to save my head!”
He also suffered a fractured femur, a surgery that required a blood transfusion. “I had donated occasionally at blood drives up to then,” he said. “Six months to the day from my surgery I got a call asking me to come down and donate.”
Glenn was soon averaging seven whole blood donations per year. During his career at SAIC, Inc. he donated with a CBC LifeLeaders team called the “Corpuscle Corp.” His team proudly “topped out” by reaching the team goal of 35 pints.
He began donating platelets and plasma in 2009, and was soon averaging 24 donations per year. His scheduled slumped in 2016 thanks to another cycling accident. “My wheel went into some wet concrete; I went over the handlebars and landed on my head,” he said. “I cracked my helmet, had a concussion and lost a couple of teeth.”
But Glenn persevered again and was soon back on schedule. His 300 donation milestone was his eighth donation of 2018.
A GUIDING FRIENDSHIP
Glenn remembers meeting Theodore when he was a young boy full of energy swimming at the Oakwood pool. “I found out he knew all the train schedules in town. It was just one of his interests,” said Glenn. “I thought he has substance. There’s something to him.”
As Theodore grew older, Glenn became Theodore’s role model for cycling. “I had a little orange Target bike,” said Theodore. “I was 12 and we went from Factory Road in Beavercreek to Young’s Dairy and back. It was 37 miles and it took six hours!”
In July of 2017 Glenn and a group of friends organized a 100-mile ride with Theodore from Yellow Springs to Urbana and back to Oakwood. “It was a team of three of us that took turns riding with him and he rode the whole 100 miles,” said Glenn.
Glenn also became Theodore’s role model for blood donations. “I’d show up at the pool with a bandage on my arm and he would ask about it,” said Glenn. “It’s a big thing in my life and it’s a big thing in his life too.”
When Theodore turned 16 he was eager to become a blood donor. But he learned it would not come easy as he struggled to pass required screening.
“I kept on getting deferred,” Theodore said, “Whether it was weight or blood pressure. I think it was 10 times. I tried every two weeks. I never gave up because it’s a really good cause. If I truly care about the cause I need to come back.”
Theodore made his first whole blood donation in 2016. “I did eight of whole blood, until I got a gallon, and then I started apheresis,” he said.
Whether it’s cycling 100 miles or donating a gallon of blood, Theodore says it all comes down to perseverance. He compared it to school work.
“If I failed a science test and never took a science test again, I wouldn’t have gotten where I am today,” he said. “It’s all perseverance. If you don’t persevere you won’t get anywhere in life. Life is full of failures. You can take those failures and learn from them.”
Glenn simply shakes his head and smiles when he hears Theodore’s words of wisdom. He doesn’t claim any credit, but it’s clear he has mentored Theodore well. After soft drinks and cookies in the Donor Café, they unlock their bikes and begin the journey home. Companions on the road, compassionate blood donors, friends for life.