The added “challenge” of the 2018 Community Blood Center/US Bank Troy-Piqua Challenge Blood Drive was to top the record-setting performance of last year’s 20th anniversary. The Miami County rivals not only topped last year’s record the smashed it with a whopping 15 percent increase in donors.
The winner will be announced tonight just before Troy and Piqua kick-off the 134th renewal of their football rivalry. Both sides can take pride in knowing their combined high school and US Bank community blood drives set new records of 438 donors and 396 units of blood donated, including 148 first-time donors.
Troy emerged from Tuesday’s rival high school blood drives with an early lead of 14 votes. At stake is the $1,000 check US Bank will award to the winning school. On Thursday it was up to the communities to decide the Challenge outcome by voting at the US Bank blood drives in Troy and Piqua.
PIQUA PRIDE ON THE LINE AT US BANK BLOOD DRIVE
Piqua US Bank branch manager Emily Shawler is a Piqua High graduate, a dedicated blood donor, and the official “coach” of her bank team. In fact her title “coach” is on the back of the matching dark blue Piqua-Troy Challenge t-shirts her entire team wears on blood drive day.
Bank staff member Aaron Cotes wore his team shirt as he took time from work to donate. “I was a back-up,” said Aaron. “I came up and they had a spot open and it was ‘Let’s do it.’ All good!”
Buffy Walling made her first lifetime donation on one of the Bloodmobiles in the Piqua US Bank parking lot. Going to the game? “Oh yea! My son used to play for Piqua,” she said. Why did she decide to donate for the first time? “Because of ‘Mrs. Shawler’ out there!”
“We’ve known each other since we were itty-bitty,” said Emily. “We’re like family.”
The sense of family tradition was shared by donor Kathy Davisson, Emily’s high school principal. She retired in 2010 after 15 years as principal at Piqua, and she can recall the very first Troy-Piqua Challenge in 1998.
“In ’98 they came to Troy Principal Rob Walker and I to talk about giving money to the schools, which is something we really needed. We had a good run over my time there.”
Piqua leads the series 15-4-1, although it has been a see-saw 3-3 battle the last six years.
“We have won it a lot,” said Kathy. “We really try to get people out and give blood and help the community. It sets a standard, the whole town is involved. It’s a pretty big rivalry.”
There is plenty of evidence the Troy-Piqua rivalry in football and blood drives will inspire generations to come. Jacqueline Lambert, a staff member at Green St. Daycare, made her donation with her face painted for Halloween.
“This is for Halloween, we dress up for this,” said Jacqueline. “The kids are all in red and blue!”
TROY DETERMINED TO KEEP ROLLING AT US BANK BLOOD DRIVE
The Troy US Bank blood drive opened with Troy holding a “two touchdown” lead of 14 votes thanks to a strong blood drive turn-out at Troy High School. To win the Troy-Piqua Challenge, the “challenge” for the Troy US Bank community blood drive Thursday was to keep momentum rolling.
“The bank is so involved in the community,” said US Bank staff member Shelly South after taking a break from work to donate. “We appreciate the community and causes that are close to us: the blood drive, people with disabilities, working at the nature preserve, all ways to volunteer in the community.”
US Bank’s Deborah Wildermuth has passed the torch of blood drive coordinator to US Bank Troy Branch Manager Jennifer Honeyman. Deborah came to the blood drive and did a Facebook Live stream of her entire donation. When bank business finally closed for the day Jennifer was one of the to make her donation and vote for Troy.
Marie Francis saw the big CBC Bloodmobile in front of the US Bank and decided to give her vote. “I hadn’t donated in a long time, and I thought, ’It’s good to go!’” she said.
“My oldest son plays for Troy, so we’re here to support!” said Alena Weaver, with her nine and seven year old sons Reis and Graysen alongside her donor bed.
Tom Klosterman from Sidney cast his vote for Troy with his milestone 100th lifetime donation. “I didn’t think I was going to make it this year because I missed the last blood drive in Piqua,” said Tom. “This gets me back in rotation.”
Tom credited an exercise routine that keeps him healthy for donating and the inspiration of fellow donors at French Oil in Piqua. “People at work, lots of people that have given hundreds of times,” said Tom.
Tom got special congratulations to Miami County Representative Steve Huffman, who was at his home in Tipp City and stopped by the US Bank blood drive. Rep. Huffman is an emergency room physician and lifelong blood donor who sponsored House Bill 252 to designate January “Ohio Blood Donor Awareness Month.” It became law in February and will be celebrated for the first time in January 2019.
“There’s a natural rivalry between the two towns and the high schools that are so close,” said Rep. Huffman. “It’s good to see them come together for such a great common cause, and see them fighting for the need for blood. There’s no barrier between people who will give or need blood in Miami County.”
That’s a message deep in the heart of first-time donor Heather Wolford from Troy.
“I was born in Troy, graduated from Troy High School and still live in Troy,” said Heather. “I donated because my daughter Adalynn is a cancer survivor. She’s six now. She was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at two years old. She had a tumor growing on her spine.”
Heather recalled that Adalynn received multiple blood product transfusions, including eight plasma transfusions during her treatment.
“She’s cancer free now. She’s in kindergarten and thriving!” said Heather. “Every year since she was diagnosed I tried to donate. This is my first successful year giving blood!”
Adalynn, though only six, has her own inspiration. “She wants to be a doctor, an oncologist,” said Heather. “She has a good heart.”