Dayton donor William “Bill” Rush had just a few words to say as he celebrated his milestone 400th lifetime blood donation at the Dayton Community Blood Center on July 18. He turned the congratulations around by telling everyone, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Bill joined an exclusive club of currently only 16 active CBC donors who have passed the 400 donation milestone. He was happy for the traditional applause, posters, cupcakes and special blood drop cake. But his deepest and most humble gratitude was simply for the opportunity to help save lives.
“I just know how important it is that people need blood,” he said. “It’s an important thing in your life and it’s a great benefit. As long as I’m able to do it, I’ll continue doing it.”
Bill recalls first donating in his hometown of Mansfield. “I was working at Cappen Stoves. “They came over there with a blood drive,” he said. “I was 18.”
He came to Dayton to work for Whirlpool and immediately began donating at CBC blood drives. He retired at age 62 when Whirlpool moved from Dayton to Greenville. He became a platelet donor in December of 2012, and since then has tried to average a full schedule of 24 donations per year.
“I was able to donate more often,” he said about giving platelets and plasma. “I just thought it was more important for other people to be able to give more.” Bill reached his 400th donation milestone with his 17th donation of 2018.
Bill remains an active 81 year old. His friend and fellow donor David L. Cramer met Bill at the Dayton Senior Olympics. “He did bowling, badminton, track and field, lots of different sports,” said David. “He wore a blood donor t-shirt to an event and I said, ‘You’re a blood donor too!’”
Bill credits his exercise routine for keeping him healthy and able to donate. “I’m a stretch-aholic!” he said. “I exercise five days a week. My favorite exercise is water aerobics at the YMCA. I like to do yoga too. I’m a yoga fanatic.”
He took exercise classes at Sinclair Community College and sometimes filled in as substitute yoga instructor. “Exercise and donating are the two most important things in my life right now,” he said.
His son Michael and his two granddaughters live in Arlington, Texas. He still mourns the loss of his daughter Elizabeth who died of brain cancer at age 50. “You never expect your children to go before you do,” he said.
He prides himself on his “flexibility,” both on the yoga mat, and in keeping a full schedule of platelet and plasma donations. Bill is racing no one but his self, and his mission to help save lives, when he talks about his next milestone: “My next goal will be the ‘Indianapolis 500!’”