Donor Annika Shaffer with Renate Crawford

OXFORD, Ohio – The 40th annual Greek Week Blood Drive on Sept. 25-26 at the Armstrong Student Center celebrated Miami University’s long tradition of dedicating mind, body and spirit to causes that will help others.

“When you see them making a difference like this, you want to be part of that,” said Renate Crawford, wife of Miami President Greg Crawford, as she met students donating in Fritz Pavilion Sept. 26.  “For the Greeks especially, you get to see the good things they’re doing.”

Renate and Greg are scientists, health enthusiasts and dedicated advocates for social justice.  Greg became Miami’s 22nd president in 2016 and Renate stepped into the role of ambassador and adjunct physics professor.

The inaugural Greek Week Blood Drive in 1978 was Community Blood Center’s first college campus blood drive. It became a two-day blood drive in 2007 and remains the biggest blood drive in the region.

This year’s blood drive totaled 428 donors, including 264 first-time donors and 338 donations for 108 percent of the collection goal.  Participation was the largest since 2015, and the 338 units collected was a 47 percent increase over last year.

“I am never surprised but always impressed to learn of our students’ service to others,” said Greg. He was out of town during the blood drive but the student donors immediately recognized Renate.

“The Crawfords are very involved,” said Annika Shaffer, a senior from Bryan, Ohio and a member of Zeta Tau Alpha.  She chatted with Renate while donating. “They were at the Crop Walk Sunday. They come out to a lot of events and not just Greek Week events.”

A bonus for all the Greeks is being able to earn points toward the overall Greek Week team competition by supporting community service events, including the Crop Walk and blood drive.

“We won the Greek Week competition last year and we’re in the lead now,” said Annika.  “I just got an update – we had over 100 people at the Crop Walk and that was the most of everyone.”

“Greek Week is about the participation and getting people involved and active,” said Zoe Philips, a Kappa Delta member who as vice president of programming for the Panhellenic Association is a co-organizer of Greek Week. “To do things for the community:  the Greek community as well as the Oxford community.”

Alex Barnett, sophomore Zeta Xau Alpha member donated six times while in high school in Defiance, Ohio.  “When I was a junior one of our family friends, he was diagnosed with leukemia and started needing blood so I started donating,” said Alex. “He passed away two years ago.  His family donates and is going strong and I kept it up.”

Greg Pope from Urbana explained to Renate, “My girlfriend wanted to me to come along and I said, ‘Why not? I’m helping people.’” “Oh you are,” Renate replied. “It’s a huge chance to make a difference.”

“Both my parents donate blood,” said Shannon Donnelly, a first time donor. “My dad said, ‘There will be cookies afterwards!’ and I said, ‘Perfect.’”

Donating at the 40th Greek Week Blood Drive also gave students the sense that we were adding to Miami’s history.

“It was definitely something people get excited about,” said Zoe Philips. “It goes on every year and is something people care about. Miami students have busy lives, but to take time out to help save three lives is so worthwhile!”

“It’s a great place to be,” said Christine Hughes, an Alpha Chi Omega member from Cleveland.  “I love the community here and being part of the Greek life.”

Alex Barnett with Alex, Sam Stambaugh


Holdheide family Emily, Dave, Sharon, Alan

It had been slow going on the after-school route for Fort Loramie school bus driver Sharon Holdheide.  A wide-load vehicle had clogged the road and put her a half hour behind schedule.

But when she finally got home, some good news was waiting:  She had just won the grand prize $5,000 Lowe’s home improvement gift card in the Community Blood Center “Build a Better Blood Supply Summer Blood Drive.”

“You have got to be kidding, oh my goodness!” Sharon said. “You just made a bad day turn out to be very good.”

Everyone who registered to donate blood with CBC from May 29 through Sept. 1 was automatically entered in the drawing to win the $5,000 home improvement gift card.  Those eligible to donate again could enter twice.   At the end of the campaign period there were nearly 19,000 entries.

Sharon entered the drawing when she registered to donate June 19 at the St. Michael’s Hall “Country Fun Blood Drive” in her hometown of Fort Loramie.  It was her 69th lifetime blood donation.  It turned out to be very lucky donation, randomly chosen by computer as the contest winner.

“I started donating blood when I was 16 years old,” said Sharon.  “My dad always donated and encouraged us to as well. Those of us that could always tried to help out.”

Sharon said her husband Dave also came from a family of donors. “After we were married it just became part of our routine,” she said.

Dave now has 136 lifetime donations. “If I had been able to donate continuously since I was 16, I would have had more gallons donated than Dave,” said Sharon, “So I guess it was a friendly competition between us!”

Sharon said their children Emily and Alan often went with them to blood drives, “So they just grew up with it. They both started donating when they were 16.”

An early opportunity to donate as a family came on Dec. 23, 2014 when they went together to the Sacred Heart of Jesus blood drive in McCartyville.   Sharon still had on the Santa cap she wore on her bus route and they all posed for pictures in their CBC “Be a Deer – Donate Blood” reindeer t-shirts.

“It always felt great to hit a gallon milestone and to know we were helping someone out,” said Sharon. “We might need blood sometime and I’ll sure be glad someone donated to save one of our lives.”

The goal of the “Build a Better Blood Supply” blood drive was to help CBC maintain a steady blood supply through the challenging summer months.  That mission was accomplished with more than 16,000 units donated. Now the grand prize will help the Holdheide family make some home improvements.

We haven’t decided for sure what we might do with the gift card,” said Sharon. “We might do a big project like new flooring throughout the house, or some smaller projects like new doors, painting, and a gas grill. We’re thinking we might just go to Lowe’s and walk around to get some ideas.”

They can take their time and enjoy the journey. “I feel very excited and appreciative,” said Sharon. “We’ll be able to find something we can use. Wow!”



Laura Walker, Myla Cardona-Jones

Colorful rubber balls served as ballots in the third annual Sinclair Community College “Battle of the Badges Blood Drive” Sept. 19 in the campus library.  The Criminal Justice and Fire Science competition kicks-off the new school year of blood drives on campus, and for the second straight year the ball bounced in favor of the future firefighters.

“We’ve got the little bouncy balls going in the jars this year, we thought we’d try that out,” said Fire Science Professor Laura Walker. The red Fire Science jar collected 18 balls as donor votes, compared to 13 in the blue Criminal Justice jar.

It means Fire Science will keep the unique “Battle of the Badges” Public Safety trophy for another year.  On display at the blood drive, the trophy is a work of recycled art that features a fire hose nozzle, oxygen tank, body armor vest and a training pistol.

Donor Marinda Myers, a bio-tech student from Beavercreek, juggled a rubber ball back and forth in her hands before deciding to vote for police. “I took forensics, but I changed to EMS because at the time I was planning on becoming an EMT,” she said as she explained her indecision.

“They’re both good,” said radiology student Gabby Wacker from Miamisburg as she voted for police. “You can’t lose!”

The competition was again a win for Community Blood Center and patients in need of blood. The blood drive totaled 37 donors, including 13 first-time donors and 30 donations for 111 percent of the collection goal.

“The Battle of the Badges is about giving back to the community,” said Laura. “It’s something we talk about in class. This is something a student can do right now to make a difference.  The big picture in Fire Science is going to a house on someone’s worst day. You may not always be able to help. But this is one thing you can do to help a person.”

The Battle of the Badges is an opportunity for students to learn more about Sinclair’s six “Career Communities,” which includes the multiple careers in the “Law and Public Safety” community that includes Criminal Justice and Fire Science technologies.

“We’re talking about putting a gavel on top of the trophy next year for paralegal careers,” said Myla Cardona-Jones who teaches in the para-legal program and spoke to students about Career Communities at the blood drive.

“Law enforcement teaches how to be a better person and help the community,” said Laura Walker. “The blood drive is something you can do to make a difference in peoples’ lives too.”

The Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society sponsors Sinclair’s four annual blood drives.  The next blood drive in the Sinclair library will be Nov. 29.

Gabby Wacker donating



Knapke Family

VERSAILLES, Ohio – The second annual Steve Knapke Memorial Blood Drive Sept. 17 in Versailles was a successful day of donations and marked an important year in the partnership between the Knapke family and the Versailles Poultry Days Committee.

The committee welcomed the Knapke family as co-sponsors a year ago to honor Versailles donor Steve Knapke.  Steve was inspired to become a blood donor after surviving a 1988 auto accident.  Another accident in 2016 claimed his life and injured his wife Lois.  Both accidents were caused by impaired drivers.

The partnership helped increase donor participation last year, and the trend continued at Monday’s blood drive.  The Versailles community responded with 164 registrations and 129 whole blood donations, plus 11 platelet and plasma donations.

“We were so emotional last year,” said Steve’s daughter Lisa DiRenzo.  The first memorial blood drive was just a year after Steve’s death.  “Now we can feel more like it’s just a nice thing to do. It makes you feel good.”

It was an important year of healing for Lois Knapke.  Her back was broken in the 2016 collision and she continued to have severe headaches.  Last winter she suffered a stroke and learned there was bleeding in her brain related to the accident.  “There was a time when I wondered if I would be here,” she said.

Lois has made a promising recovery.  She joined daughters Lisa, Emmy and Rachel and son Doug in welcoming donors and serving homemade cookies in the Donor Café.

“Anything that helps us to remember my dad in a good way,” said Rachel Durham, who made her first successful donation Monday. “He’s loved so much. As a family we don’t always get back here.  We make the extra effort because he would be proud of it.”

The Versailles Poultry Days Committee members enjoy their collaboration with the Knapke family, and are also celebrating 2018 as a special year in club history.  “We had record-breaking sales,” said volunteer Jeff Lyons. “We also sold the one-millionth chicken and gave away a trip to Las Vegas!”

They all take satisfaction from seeing donors encouraged to help others at the Steve Knapke Memorial Blood Drive.

“It was on my bucket list to start donating,” said North Star donor Johna Hemmelgarn, who made her 10th lifetime donation Monday. “Needles are not my favorite thing.  Now I see how even more important it is. I do it now especially to honor him.  I guess he makes me braver.”

Steve Knapke photo



David L. Cramer 237 LTD

Huber Heights donor David L. Cramer is celebrating his 50th year as a blood donor by “pinning” his hopes on his goal of donating 30 gallons of whole blood.  To “needle” himself toward completion, and to enlist the support of friends along the way, he created a “50 Years Whole Blood Donor” commemorative pin.

David visited the Dayton CBC to make his 237th lifetime donation on Sept. 10. He wore the pin on the “25 Gallon Whole Blood Donor” ball cap he made after he reached his 200 lifetime donation milestone.  His overall total includes eight apheresis donations but he only counts his 229 whole blood donations toward his 30-gallon (240 LTD) goal.

“A donation is a pint, and a pint is a donation,” David always says.

“I have two more to go this year,” said David. (Whole blood donors must wait 56 days to be eligible for their next donation). “If I’m able to give in December it will be the seventh donation of the year for me. You don’t get to do that very often.”  He would then need just four more donations to reach 30 gallons.

Seven donations would cap a special year, celebrated by his commemorative pin.  He started the year with 200 pins, but his supply is getting lower as he gives them to friends.

The pin features a red blood drop with “50 Years” in gold lettering. The background is pink as a tribute to the fight against cancer, and includes “apheresis donor” and his years as a “bone marrow donor.” The outer circle of the pin is in red and includes his name and “Whole Blood Donor 1969-2018.”

David started donating in 1969 as a freshman at Bowling Green University.  He went to the University of Dayton and captained the baseball team. He was a Dayton Police officer for 13 years and won the Medal of Valor before retiring on disability in 1989.

His love of sports has kept him active and healthy. He was a baseball umpire for 25 years, competed in more than 36 different sports in the Senior Olympics and was inducted into the Ohio Senior Olympics Hall of Fame in 2015.

David’s Sept. 10 visit to CBC coincided with the Sinclair Community College baseball’s team annual visit.  The team is encouraged to donate by Coach Steve Dintaman. David met Steve after donating and talked about baseball and blood donations.

Steve, who has 39 lifetime donations, was impressed by David’s 30-gallon goal.  David was impressed by Steve’s record at Sinclair that includes eight conference championships and two trips to the Junior College World Series.  Both are donors who swing for the fences.

David L. Cramer 50 Year Donor Pin


Larry Smith 360 LTD

It’s a source of pride for Dayton donor Larry Smith to remember his induction into the 2015 Fresenius Kabi National Donation Hall of Fame. He made his 296th lifetime blood donation as he received the award.

Larry was back at the Dayton CBC on Sept. 6 for one of his more routine visits. He quietly went about donating platelets for his 360th lifetime donation. “I turned 80 on the Fourth of July,” Larry said, to mention another milestone.  He does have a lingering item on his bucket list.  He still hopes to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records.

“I ran the distance equal to three times around the world – the most for a blind runner,” Larry said. “I’m sure there a lot of people that have run more than that, but not someone who is totally blind. I wrote to them but never heard back.”

It’s rare to hear Larry ever qualify himself as a blind person.  His remarkable life has been about overcoming obstacles and surviving situations that would seem insurmountable to anyone.

CBC’s nomination of Larry for the Hall of Fame included the account of how he braved a winter storm on the day after Christmas in 2012 so he could make his scheduled blood donation. His Hall of Fame recognition led to interviews and profiles in local newspapers and television reports.

Now many across the Miami Valley know Larry’s story. He was blind at birth and left abandoned as an infant on the steps of a state orphanage.  He was in poor health as a child and his suffering was made worse by the brutality of the orphanage workers.

Larry was rescued and nurtured by the kindness of a new house mother and a reform movement at the home.  His health improved and he made his way in the world as a Dayton hospital darkroom worker, marathon runner, choir singer, and blood donor.

It’s been a long time since Larry has hit the road as a marathon runner.  He no longer walks outdoors by himself because of trouble with balance and occasional dizziness.  But he maintains his disciplined routine of running on a treadmill in his apartment.

“I’m well on my way to my fourth time around the world, but I still have a ways to go,” he said.

With the help of transportation by Project Mobility, he also keeps pace with his blood donation routine. He made a single platelet donation during his Sept. 6 visit and said, “I have hopes of making a double sometime.”

Hope burns like a bright flame in the darkness for Larry Smith.  He may not see it, but he somehow knows it’s there. It guides him and he follows.  It’s a gift the Guinness Book of World Records has no way to measure.


Greek Week 2017 donor John Freim

OXFORD, Ohio – Greeks at Miami University are spreading the word that “Greek Week is Coming at You Live” Sept. 23-29.  Again for the 40th year, the heart of the celebration will be a chance to save lives at the Sept. 25-26 Greek Week Blood Drive.

The 40th annual Greek Week Blood Drive is Tuesday, Sept. 25 and Wednesday, Sept. 26 from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. For the first time the blood drive will take place in the Armstrong Student Center Donald W. Fritz Pavilion at 550 East Spring St., Oxford.

The inspirational “Be The Good” stoneware coffee mug is a gift to everyone who registers to donate.  Schedule an appointment with Community Blood Center online at or call 1-800-388-GIVE and use sponsor code 274.

Greek life at Miami dates backs to 1833, earning it the nickname “Mother of Fraternities.”  The Greeks made Miami the birthplace of CBC college blood drives with the first Greek Week Blood Drive in 1978.

By 2001 Miami had expanded to 12 blood drives a year, an achievement that earned national recognition from America’s Blood Centers. It became a two-day blood drive in 2007 and is still the largest in the region, and CBC’s longest-standing blood drive partner.

“I am never surprised but always impressed to learn of our students’ service to others,” said Miami President Gregory Crawford. “This 40th anniversary of Greek Week being the largest annual blood drive for the Community Blood Center marks a little-known tradition for Miami – one with life-saving implications. I encourage those who haven’t yet tried donating to also ‘roll up their sleeves’ for this great cause, remembering that every pint one gives helps save the lives of one-to-three people.”

In the 2017-2018 academic year Miami hosted eight student-sponsored blood drives, six Faculty and Staff sponsored blood drives, and the two-day Greek Week Blood Drive – a total of 16 days dedicated to helping save lives.  They totaled 1,273 donors, including 454 first-time donors and 957 units of blood donated.

Greek Week combines community service and competition, with fraternities and sororities able to win points toward the overall Greek Week title by recruiting donors for the blood drive. But it is primarily a campus-wide celebration with the blood drive open to all students, faculty and staff.

“Many Miami students have donated in high school, but last year 119 Greek Week donors were donating for the first time,” said CBC Account Representative Sandy Baur. “Many will continue to donate throughout their lives.  Miami Greeks have helped establish a rich history of community service, helping others, and saving thousands of lives.”