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.