Candace McKee-Bewley, Kara Kidd

The Shandon Congregational Church community remembers Wayne Witt as a granddad who loved kids, the man who shaved his head in solidarity with a friend fighting cancer, and a blood drive leader who once encouraged donations by standing up in front of the congregation wearing a vampire costume.

The annual Shandon Congregational Church blood drive with Community Blood Center is now called the “Wayne Witt Memorial Blood Drive” in his honor. The July 12 blood drive in the Community House, the first without Wayne as coordinator, totaled 40 donors and 35 donations for 117 percent of the collection goal.

Wayne passed away Nov. 27, 2017 after a long battle with liver disease complicated by diabetes.  He served as a deacon and trustee at Shandon Congregational Church and helped establish the first blood drive more than 20 years ago.

“He was always just a giving person,” said his wife Carol, whose father Rev. William David was church pastor. Wayne and Carol met at Ross High School, were married 48 years and have three children and eight grandchildren.

“He was always the one open to people,” she said. “If anyone could talk you into doing something, it would be Wayne!”

“If he told you it was a good place to be, they trusted him” said church member Kari Roberts. “He motivated people.”

Carol said Wayne wanted to be remembered with smiles.  He proposed a “celebration of life” gathering in the Community House in October, a month before his death.  “He was smiling,” said Carol. “But you could see in his face he felt so bad.”

At Wayne’s funeral church sexton Zeline McKee encouraged her daughter Candace McKee-Bewley to follow Wayne as blood drive coordinator. “Wayne was such a big part of our lives,” said Zeline. “We couldn’t let it not go on.”

“I hope I can do a good enough job,” said Candace as she made her seventh lifetime donation in Wayne’s honor.  “Wayne met his goal every year!”

Candace encouraged her husband Nick McKee to make his first lifetime donation.  “I’m pretty sure I’ll be here this time next year!” he said.

Shandon values its heritage and its leaders.  Welsh immigrants established the town in 1801 and the Congregational Church in 1802. They built the Community House in 1825, followed by the church in 1885.

The legacy includes the Wayne Witt Memorial Blood Drive. “He had a strong connection with the people who came to the blood drive,” said Carol. “It was the community.”

Shandon Cong. Church


Steve Huffman, Caroline LendenskiWest Milton’s “Big Ed” Lendenski was remembered again for his “Hey! How ya doin’?” greetings, his occasional “wall dance” approach to student discipline at Milton-Union High, and a heart that matched his “larger than life” legacy during the seventh annual Ed Lendenski Memorial Blood Drive July 11 at the West Milton United Church of Christ.

Ed’s wife Carolyn and their children began the memorial blood drive in 2012 after Ed lost his long battle with the bone marrow disorder myelodysplastic syndrome.  MDS patients develop severe anemia and his treatment included many blood transfusions.

The family hoped to encourage donations and to honor donors who helped extend his life.  The July 11 blood drive totaled 50 donors and 42 donations.

“He would be so shocked,” said Caroline as she greeted donors with her daughter Julie Newman.  “He was a very kind and humble man. For him to know that someone would be doing this, he would think it was just wonderful, because he used an awful lot of blood when he was sick. This is so nice to be able to pay it back.”

“I still cry,” said Julie. “I can’t help it.  People come in and give all this blood. He used a lot of blood from the blood center.  Wonderful people there.”

Ed earned his rugged reputation from his football coaching career at Milton-Union High School, but he is remember best as the school’s firm, fair and compassionate principal for 23 years.  Former students and players often pay tribute by donating in his memory.

Visitors this year included Rep. Steve Huffman of Miami County, a lifetime blood donor who is responsible for the new law designating January as “Blood Donor Awareness Month” in Ohio.

“Ed was a coach when I was young in junior high school and my principal in high school,” said Rep. Huffman.  “Everybody knew him and loved him and all the work he did with charities, the church and the school will ever be missed.”

Ed was a big man who might lift a wayward student or player off the ground to get his point across. Donor Doug Williams, a Milton-Union graduate under Big Ed, remembered seeing a “wall dance” up close when an unruly student was kicked out of class.

“He was not real smart, because the classroom was right across from the principal’s office,” said Doug. “Ed said, ‘Jim what are you doing?’ and the next thing was a wall dance!”

“It’s amazing how people still remember him,” said Caroline.  “When you saw him walk in the door, you knew that was big Ed. He loved life, loved his family, his church, his religion, his students. He loved everybody. He was just a really good guy.”

Donor Daphne Adams never knew Ed Lendenski, but she sees why the blood drive is now part of his legacy. “I received blood when my son was born,” she said, “so it’s my time to give back.”


Vicky Waldren 100 LTD jacket

Xenia donor Vicky Waldren still cherishes a special gift from her father-in-law Harry Waldren. It serves as a sparkling reminder of how she became a “Donor for Life.” When she made her milestone 100th lifetime donation July 3 at the Dayton Community Blood Center it was in his honor.

“It’s in memory of my father-in-law,” said Vicky. “He was a good old guy. It’s a tribute to him. He was the one the one that got me donating blood.”

Harry Waldren passed away many years ago, but Vicky still follows his example.

“My father-in-law was a Shriner and we would go down to the Shrine to give blood quite often,” she said. She recalled that members could earn service points to be redeemed for gifts. As an active Shriner, Harry had earned plenty of points.

“One day he gave me his points and I got a half-carat diamond ring,” said Vicky. “I still have the ring.”

Vicky and her husband Fred have been married nearly 49 years and have two daughters. Vicky has retired after 25 years with Chase Bank. “I do a lot of sewing,” she says of her favorite pastime. “I embroider a lot!”

She’s been a dedicated donor at the Dayton CBC over the decades and still tries to average three donations per year.

“It takes an hour,” she said. “I am doing it for someone else that needs my blood.”


Craig Kinyon - Reid CEO

RICHMOND, Indiana – Reid Health never sleeps.  Patient care continues non-stop through holiday time, and the same dedication continues for Reid’s blood drives.  The fuse was burning on the eve of Independence Day celebrations as donors calmly filled the beds July 3 for the community blood drive in Lingle Hall.

Reid hosts six blood drives a year with Community Blood Center.  In May of 2017 the Reid Health blood drive expanded hours to a 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. schedule to accommodate more community members.  In May of 2018 CBC began using apheresis machines at Reid for platelet and plasma donations.

Reid Health President and CEO Craig Kinyon has been a frequent whole blood donor at the Reid Health blood drives.  He made his first plasma donation when Reid began apheresis in May and was back donating plasma again at Tuesday’s blood drive before July 4th.  He said giving blood can be called patriotic.

“Absolutely,” he said.  “It’s part of being another person in our country supporting other people.  You never know when you’re going to need blood.  It could be you, your family a next door neighbor or people you work with.”

Reid Memorial Hospital began its blood service partnership with CBC on Feb. 10, 1974.  Over the years Reid Health has been a welcoming home base for CBC. Director of Laboratory Services Chuck McGill has served as blood drive coordinator for more than 30 years and staff members regularly juggle their shifts to donate.

“It ties into with what we do here as far as patient care,” said Craig Kinyon.  “Blood is very important and lifesaving.  If not us then who? We have to walk the talk and help every patient, including what we can do personally.”

Neighborhood Health Center staff member Rylie Joy has been at Reid a month and made her first Reid blood drive donation Tuesday. “I just enjoy getting to donate when I can,” she said, “and with the holiday there is a real need for blood.”

Community members have embraced the Reid blood drive schedule.  Family members Linda Pease, Kathy Wagner and Diana Glunt come from different towns to donate together at Reid. “We go out to eat lunch first then we come here,” said Diana.

Evan Collinsworth from Richmond is inspired to donate because blood transfusions have helped his wife survive both a serious anemic condition and lymphoma.  “That got me sticking to it,” said Evan. “When it hits close to home you pick it up and run. I’m doubly blessed and that makes it easy to come here.”

Reid blood drives draw the support of loyal donors like Gary DeLucio, who made his milestone 100th lifetime donation Tuesday, and Eric Marshall who made his 150th.

“Patriotic? Absolutely,” said Gary. “It helps other people and it’s the right thing to do. I’ve known so many people who have needed blood transfusion. I know I’m helping them out.  Not everyone can donate but the fact that I can makes it important to get out and donate.”

Eric Marshall started donating blood while in the Navy.  He lost his wife Joey five years ago. “She was my ‘pen pal’ when I was in Vietnam,” he said. “I wasn’t getting any mail, so one of my friends asked her if she would write me. We were married 41 years.”

Eric could think of no better way of honoring Independence Day than with his 150th lifetime donation. “I try to help people,” he said. “I always have.”


Ralph Simmons 100 LTD

Trotwood donor Ralph Simmons will proudly wear the “Donor for Life – 100 LTD” jacket he received for making his milestone 100th blood donation with Community Blood Center on June 29.  But he say more recognition than he never expected came from a simple t-shirt.

“I was wearing one of my blood donor t-shirts, said Ralph, “and I actually had people thank me for donating. You don’t know who received your blood.”

Ralph started impacting the lives of others by donating at an early age. “I’m from western New York, north of Buffalo,” he said. “I used to give up there. The first time was in high school. I was 17. We had a blood drive at the fire station in our little town. We had about half our class of 50 or 60 people I graduated with.”

Ralph works for Tom Smith Industries in Englewood.  He and his wife Esther have been married 17 years. He started donating with CBC in 2006.  His milestone donation at CBC came the day after the annual JD’s Old Fashioned Custard “Give a Pint, Get a Pint Blood Drive” in Englewood.  It has special significance for Ralph.

“When I first started it was back at JD’s Frozen Custard, the first time the mobile was there 13 years ago,” he said. “I was with friends of mine and I thought it was the opportunity to give blood that I’d been looking for.  I’ve been doing it ever since then.”

He donated every year at JD’s. Then he became a regular supporter of Englewood, Northmont and Vandalia area blood drives.  But he’s been a regular donor at the Dayton CBC since 2014 when he began donating platelets and plasma.

“They asked me about giving platelets, and that’s been about five years ago,” he said.  The frequency of his donations increased, averaging close to the maximum eligibility of 24 annual donations the past two years.  He reached his 100th donation with his ninth donation of 2018.

“It’s not hard to do,” Ralph said, downplaying the many hours he spends in the donor chair. “The staff here makes it a very bearable situation!”


Earnie Josche 100 LTD

Spring Valley donor Ernest “Ernie” Josche retired after 52-year years in the auto industry. He’s been a Bellbrook Lions Club member for 43 years and a Miami Valley Hospital volunteer for six years.  But two of his proudest milestones have come this year.

Ernie and his wife Jeanne celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Jan. 27, and Ernie made his milestone 100th lifetime blood donation at the Dayton Community Blood Center on June 26. “I’m celebrating 50 and 100 in the same year!” said Ernie.

Ernie’s history as a blood donor dates back to his first job with GM. “I was hired into the Delta Moraine plant, and the blood drives came there,” he said. “That was back in ’63.”

Ernie worked as an electronics technician for 37 years. He retired from GM in 1999 and worked another 15 years in the industry before retiring in 2014.

In his 43 years with the Bellbrook Lions he’s held every office and volunteered with all projects, including the Annual Lions Club Festival coming up Aug. 16-18. “I’ve got a Lions Club board meeting tonight,” he said. “There’s a lot to do, but we’ll get it done!”

He’s especially happy to help out with the Lions’ fall and winter blood drives. “I was the one who started it,” he said.

He donates most often at the Dayton CBC, but now also donates at Miami Valley Hospital blood drives.  Most of his volunteer time at the hospital is spent working in the catheterization lab or in archives and records.

Ernie and Jeanne have a son and three grandchildren in Cincinnati and a daughter and two grandchildren in Oklahoma.  They were in Florida for their 50th anniversary but plan a celebration with the family.

Ernie drew closer to his milestone with four donations last year and reached 100 with his third donation of 2018. “I believe in this,” he said. “This is good.  I do a lot of volunteer work and my wife’s the same way.”


Cori Blankenship, Becky Cornelius

ENGLEWOOD, Ohio – The July 4th holiday week promises to be a scorcher. But thanks to the annual pre-holiday JD’s Old Fashioned Frozen Custard “Give a Pint, Get a Pint Blood Drive” in Englewood on June 28 donors could cool down with a cold treat, and Community Blood Center could go into the holiday with a boost to the blood supply.

It’s an Englewood tradition for JD’s owner Cindy Gress to sponsor the blood drive in a joint effort with their Union Boulevard neighbor Fairview Brethren in Christ Church.  Everyone who registered to donate at either location received a coupon good for a free pint of JD’s Old Fashioned Frozen Custard.

The cool ticket produced hot results.  The CBC Bloodmobile at JD’s welcomed 53 donors, including eight first-time donors and 48 donations.  The Great Room at Fairview Brethren was equally busy with 50 donors and 46 donations.  The “Give a Pint, Get a Pint” total was 103 donors and 94 donations for 115 percent of the collection goal.

Englewood’s Natalie Rutherford was one of the new donors on the Bloodmobile at JD’s. “It’s my first time giving blood,” she said. “I’ve never been able to do it before. I was always under the weight limit, but now I’m good! Getting ice cream is a bonus, but it’s always good to give blood!”

Cori Blankenship started donating at Northmont High School.  It was an easy decision to support the JD’s blood drive, and an even easier deciding her favorite flavor.  Lemon sounded refreshing on a hot, humid day, and she said, “I will definitely eat it today!”

Judy Bearbower earned her free pint at the Fairview Brethren blood drive, and her taste in frozen custard was a popular choice. “Probably the lemon,” she said. “It’s very good!”

Ashley Hall from Englewood brought her children nine-year-old Justin and six-year-old Raelyn aboard the Bloodmobile with plans to share a pint of chocolate custard. Greg White made his milestone 25th lifetime donation at Fairview Brethren with his wife Laura and twin sons Shane and Cody who will turn one on Saturday. “They will probably like vanilla,” he said.

“The last few years, I’ve donated at JD’s,” said Fairview Brethren donor Connie Gilhooly.  “When I went to make appointment I thought, OK, they’re full, so I’ll donate here.  I came anyway, not expecting custard and found out I get JD’s too!”

Fairview Brethren volunteer Lavon Robinson watched over the donors, making sure they had enough water and a quick snack of homemade cookies before facing the hot, sticky weather outside.

“It couldn’t be better,” Lavon said about the support for the blood drive. “What brings them out is saving lives and knowing they’re doing something worthy.  That’s why people come.  They’re doing it from the heart.”

Judy Bearbower