Springfield donor Tom Stafford has a simple reason why he’s still writing and playing music after a long newspaper career, and why he’ll keep giving blood after his milestone 200th lifetime donation Aug. 21 at the Springfield Community Blood Center.
“If you love something, you stay with it,” said Tom. “Maybe you get a little better every year.”
Tom’s story as a blood donor began in his hometown outside Detroit, Michigan when he was working for an insurance company that hosted a blood drive. He came to the Miami Valley in 1979 to write for the afternoon edition of the Springfield News Sun. CBC’s first Springfield Donor Center had opened in 1971 and Tom became a regular.
“I remember once being called about a newborn that needed blood,” said Tom. “Of all the things we try to do, I think blood donation is where you know you’re going to help someone. It’s a fundamental thing. People need blood to keep them alive and keep them healthy.”
Tom has platelet donations dating back to 1998, but he continued to also donate whole blood. He’s been consistently donating platelets and plasma over the past 10 years, averaging about a dozen donations per year.
“It’s a habit, and it’s a good habit. I’m glad to be helpful,” said Tom. “It’s a good way to share your health. If you’re healthy enough to give, you give a little of your health to someone else.”
Tom and his wife Ann have been married 42 “wonderful” years and have a son and daughter and two grandchildren. He’s “semi-retired,” still writing a column for the News Sun, doing freelance writing, and playing drums and singing in two bands.
He handled all sorts of assignments in his years reporting. He’s covered presidential candidates, but his favorite interview was with the mild-mannered children’s TV host Fred Rogers. “When you’re talking with him you’re the only person in the world, he’s so focused on you as a person,” he said. “It was extraordinary.”
That’s why he won’t stop writing. “You never know what you’re going to find out,” he said. “You’re always learning something.”
The sobering side of news made him dedicated to donating. “Being in the news business, you’re a little more aware of ‘What if someone runs a stoplight? What if you ran a stoplight?’” he said. “Fate or happenstance… you can be on either end of that any day.”
He’s committed to be a better writer, a better player, an even more dedicated donor. “I aim for things that are more satisfying than fun,” he said. “Fun is good too, but satisfying – that’s at a deeper level.”