ENGLEWOOD, Ohio – The Davenport family marks each year of the Officer Bill Davenport Memorial Blood Drive with a new color for the blood drive t-shirt, an Englewood Police badge on the front honoring their father’s 38 years of service, and what is now their motto on the back: “Bill would be so proud!”
The family wore red for the seventh annual blood drive July 26 at the Englewood Government Center. “You have to go through the colors of the rainbow and choose the one you want,” said Bill’s son Brett Davenport, a Kettering firefighter and the blood drive coordinator.
After seven years, the rainbow is running out of colors, but the tradition continues to grow. This year’s blood drive totaled 41 donors and 31 donations for the Community Blood Center. The seven-year total is now 392 donors and 321 donations.
“He would absolutely love it,” said Brett. “That’s the basis of why we are doing this. He had cancer for almost 10 years and used a lot of blood throughout that time. We felt it was only fair to help return that.”
The Davenport family began the blood drive in 2012, the year after Bill lost his battle with multiple myeloma, a cancer that attacks plasma cells in the bone marrow.
“There was never a time when the blood was never available for him and we want that to be for everyone,” said Brett.
“When you have an illness like he did you use a lot of blood,” said Bill’s wife Joann Davenport. “He would just think it’s tremendous. Bill loved the city of Englewood and he loved his job. To be able to carry on this connected with the police department – I think he would be very proud.”
It’s always Joann’s job at the blood drive to sell raffle tickets for door prizes donated from area merchants, with the proceeds going to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Her grandchildren, all in the red t-shirts, scamper around the registration table.
“It’s something hopefully we’ll pass on to the generations,” said Bill’s son Cory Davenport as he made his 13th lifetime donation. “Show them how good a thing it is to give back, and hopefully they’ll run with it someday.”
The family is humbled to see familiar faces supporting the blood drive year after year. Nick Hosford from Kettering made his milestone 25th lifetime donation Thursday. He worked with Brett at the Kettering Fire Department and is now the new assistant fire chief at the Dayton Fire Department.
“The need for blood, it’s everything for what we do,” said Nick. “If there isn’t enough blood at the hospital waiting for them, they’re not going to live.”
“Like the t-shirt says, Bill would be so proud,” said Cory. “He would be overwhelmed. One, that we’re doing this as a family; but too that just the outpouring by the community, everybody coming in to help the Community Blood Center.”
Red may be just the latest color for the blood drive t-shirt, but for Joann, it may be the best of all: “Well,” she said, “blood is red!”