‘SANTA’ BILL MORGAN MAKES ‘GIFT FROM THE HEART’ 200TH DONATION ON ST. VALENTINE’S DAY

Bill Morgan 200 LTD

DAYTON, Ohio – Centerville donor Bill Morgan is a familiar face at the Dayton Community Blood Center, especially when he delights fellow donors and staff by arriving in his Santa Claus costume to donate at Christmas time. But Bill chose a different holiday to mark his milestone 200th lifetime donation.

“I told my wife, ‘What better day to do my 200th than St. Valentine’s Day?’” Bill said as he donated platelets on St. Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14. “She agreed, and I was on my way. I figured this is a gift from the heart to say the least!”

Bill is a retired IT manager who once worked as a professional Santa. He’s not as big as the typical jolly old elf, so he relies on ample padding under his Santa suit.  But Bill is the genuine item when it comes to his snowy white beard.  He debuted in 2000 at Springfield’s Upper Valley Mall with his late wife Bonnie as “Mrs. Claus.”

Bonnie passed way in 2010.  It was around that time that Bill became a platelet donor.  He continues to dress as Santa to donate at CBC, and will perform as Santa to help his favorite charities.  When the holiday season comes around he will become St. Nick to visit the NIC unit at Miami Valley Hospital.  He also plans to make his traditional visit to the St. Vincent de Paul Family Shelter to deliver presents to youngsters on Christmas Day.

Bill and his wife Evelyn were married in July of 2016 and she often accompanies him as Mrs. Claus. “I have a good time with it, and I’ll keep doing it until I can’t do it anymore,” he said.

He’s just as dedicated to his donation schedule. He tries to visit CBC every two weeks and drew closer to his 200th donation milestone by making 26 platelet and plasma donations in 2018.  “As long as you guys keep telling me you need my platelets,” he said, “I’ll keep showing up.”

Santa Bill Morgan 169 LTD

ST. VALENTINE’S DAY AT VISITATION CHURCH BLOOD DRIVE – AN IDEAL WAY TO HELP OTHERS

St. Valentine's Day blood drive

EATON, Ohio – The Delta Theta Tau service sorority has been hosting blood drives at the Church of the Visitation for 25 years.  The Feb. 14 blood drive came on St. Valentine’s Day and proved to be an ideal way to celebrate service to the community and helping save lives.

“It’s one of our commitments to the community,” said Sharon Spitler who is the blood drive coordinator and president of the sorority’s Theta Mu chapter. Sharon retired in 2015 after 38 years as Community Blood Center’s account representative for Preble County.

The sorority raises money for annual projects that include a college scholarship fund and the Preble County Christmas for Kids.  Sharon said the annual blood drive is their busiest event. Their hard work resulted in 85 whole blood donors and 72 whole blood donations, plus 13 platelet and plasma donations, for 103 percent of the collection goal.

The Church of the Visitation blood drive has traditionally included machines for platelet and plasma donations.  CBC’s goal in 2019 is to recruit new platelet and plasma donors and provide more opportunity for these donations at community blood drives.

Eaton donor John Wright wore a bright red St. Valentine’s Day t-shirt from his collection of CBC t-shirts as he gave platelets for his 184th lifetime donation Thursday.  John commonly donated whole blood six times a year at Preble County blood drives.  He started donating platelets three years ago.

“I feel like there’s a need for platelets right now,” said John. Platelets and plasma are vital for the treatment of cancer, trauma, organ transplant, and burn patients.

“It’s something I can do,” John said. “For the most part, I’ll probably never know the people that are helped from it.  One day it could be me.”

St. Valentine’s Day was a milestone day for Richmond donor Bill Pendley.  It was his first visit to the Church of the Visitation blood drive and his first time donating plasma.

“I’ve given blood before, but have never given plasma,” said Bill, who regularly donates whole blood at the Seton Catholic High School blood drives.  “They called me a couple days ago and asked if I could donate plasma and I said ‘yes!’”

It was an impactful decision because Bill’s blood type is both rare and the perfect type for plasma donations.  Less than one percent of the population is AB negative, and AB negative is the “universal donor” for plasma, meaning any patient in need can receive it.

Bill’s wife Marcia sat at Bill’s side as he donated and CBC phlebotomist Sarah Spears explained the procedure.  Bill said he didn’t hesitate, even though it was unfamiliar. “Not really!” he said, “But they said they needed it!”

Bill and Marcia Pendley

DONORS ACCUSTOMED TO CARNATIONS AT ZECHAR BAILEY, FLOWER PATCH ST. VALENTINE’S BLOOD DRIVE

Cris Eliker

Donors got a reminder that St. Valentine’s Day is at hand when they visited the Zechar Bailey blood drive on Feb. 12.  The Flower Patch again partnered with Community Blood Center and volunteers from Zechar Bailey Funeral Homes to thank donors with a free flower.

A colorful carnation for everyone who registers to donate has become a tradition at the holiday blood drive.  Despite a damp, blustery day the blood drive totaled 117 whole blood donors and 98 donations, plus a dozen platelet and plasma donations for 102 percent of the collection goal.

Donn Thornhill from Zechar Bailey helped organize volunteers then donated platelets for his 478th lifetime donation.   “It’s been going pretty well,” said Donn. “I don’t think we’ve had any no-shows.”

The monthly blood drives at the Greenville Church of the Brethren have traditionally included machines for platelet and plasma donations.  CBC’s goal in 2019 is to recruit new platelet and plasma donors and provide more opportunity for these donations at community blood drives.

“I come here every month,” said platelet donor Bill Coppess. “They would rather have my platelets!”

Greenville donor Kim Schmidt has been donating platelets exclusively since last May and made her milestone 80th donation – the equivalent of 10 gallons – on Tuesday. “They called and asked me because my platelet count is high,” said Kim. “I asked, ‘Which is more beneficial?’ and they said both are, but not everyone can give platelets.”

A platelet donation does take longer than a whole blood donation.  Chris Eliker was especially fast with her whole blood donation Tuesday. “Eight minutes!” she said. “It’s painless, quick, and you feel good afterwards because you helped someone else.”

It’s a similar feeling of satisfaction for Elizabeth Mendenhall, who drew closer to her goal of 100 donations with her 97th at Tuesday’s blood drive. “I feel better when I give blood,” she said. “I know I did something good, and I think it’s good for you.”

Before heading home donor Kyle Kagey chose a red carnation. “It’s going right for my wife!” he said.

“I love red,” said donor Angela Penny as she also chose a red carnation.  But getting an early start to St. Valentine’s Day doesn’t lower any expectations for the celebration with her husband on Thursday. “It doesn’t,” she said. “We’re going out to dinner… I just hope it doesn’t snow!”

Kyle Kagey

MILESTONE DONOR STEVE BERTLES INSPIRED BY WIFE BRAVERY

Steve Bertles 100 LTD

Centerville donor Steve Bertles gave credit to his wife Jackie, a breast cancer survivor, for inspiring him to reach his milestone 100th lifetime blood donation with Community Blood Center at the Feb. 1 “Super Bowl Friday” donor party at the Dayton CBC Donor Center.

Steve was among the 80 donors who answered the call on Super Bowl Friday to help boost the blood supply after three days of brutal cold and snow that forced the cancellation of 11 blood drives.

As a local police officer, Steve is accustomed to answering the call to help others.  He actually has more than 100 donations in his donor history.  He started donating in Texas where his career was in computer technology. He moved to the Miami Valley in 1997 and was soon donating with CBC.

October Breast Cancer Awareness Month has special significance for Steve. “My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in October of 2006,” he said. “She made sure I kept donating. She’s a 12-year survivor now.  Jackie can’t donate anymore, but for me it’s something I can do to help folks.”

Steve proudly shows off pictures of his family, including pictures of Jackie smiling bravely despite losing her hair to chemotherapy, and then fully recovered with the same proud smile.  Both of their children are in the military. Son Tyler is a helicopter pilot stationed in Korea and is married with two children. Their daughter Sara is a senior at the Air Force Academy.

Steve is a true “Donor for Life” who routinely donates whole blood at the Dayton CBC and at City of Fairborn mobile blood drives. He drew closer to his milestone with five donations in 2018 and reached 100 with his first donation of 2019.

ONE MORE LIFE: TRAUMA SURVIVOR SCOTT BOYD’S SHARED JOURNEY TO RECOVERY & REDEMPTION

scottboydWEST LIBERTY, Ohio – In the summer of 2016 total strangers came to the aid of Scott Boyd – rescuers, doctors and blood donors – and saved him from dying in a farm accident.  Two years later, with his road to recovery still long and steep, a visitor emerged from out of Scott’s past to give him a needed push.  And just as unexpectedly, that friend disappeared.

Tragedy, invincibility, and redemption are reoccurring themes in Scott’s remarkable life story.  As a teen he cheated death in a car accident that killed three friends. As a dad he broke his neck diving into a pond to rescue his daughter.

No challenge compared to what happened on Aug. 12, 2016, the day he nearly bled to death in the field behind his West Liberty home. He jumped off his bush hog to clear a piece of brush and was caught in the mower blades. The “shark bite” wound to his side shattered his hip and shredded ribs and internal organs.

By chance, Scott’s wife Cindee was home for lunch that day. She got a dropped call from Scott’s phone and sent a text “need anything?” She saw “help” and “911” in his scrambled reply.

Scott’s heart stopped twice waiting for CareFlight and twice again in flight to Miami Valley Hospital. Before take-off rescue workers asked if they should wait for Scott’s young son Noah to cross the pasture to hug his dad.  They thought it would be a final goodbye.

In a series of surgeries over the next 39 hours Scott received 108 units of blood, plasma and platelets. At each uncertain step toward survival Cindee would repeat: “God has big plans for you Scott Boyd.”

Neighbors rallied to donate at the “Iron Man” blood drives held by Community Blood Center in his name.  His resilience gave him membership in a truly elite club. In 2017 Miami Valley Hospital honored him at the “Trauma Survivors Banquet.”

CHEATING DEATH, BARGAINING FOR LIFE

He had cheated death once again, but now he was bargaining to reclaim pieces of his old life.  Lost memory, the stamina to walk, drive a car again, lift weights, or ride an exercise bicycle. And always more testing, more doctor visits, more surgeries.

Months of delicate work went into preparing his body for an artificial hip. His hip bone began growing at an abnormal rate, requiring radiation and surgery. A damage nerve in his leg requires yet another surgery.

But to Scott, his biggest milestone came in June of 2018.  “Riding a bike,” he said.

Before the mowing accident he would take to the road on a three-wheeled recumbent bike. Getting back on that bike was life-changing.

“Because that’s what he did before,” said Cindee. “It was the first time he and Butch went out.”

Butch Sower and Scott were a year apart in high school.  They were fast friends and both liked fast cars.  But it was Butch who had the natural speed and strength of a champion long distance runner. He was a track and cross country star who led West Liberty-Salem High to back-to-back state championships.

“He told me a story about how the coach would push him in the last mile of the cross country race when they won the state championship,” said Scott.  “One more kick Butch, one more kick.”

‘ME AND YOU ARE INVINCIBLE’

After high school fast driving and hard drinking became a struggle for Butch.  He moved away and never married. Scott, who was married with four children, lost touch. After multiple DUI convictions Butch served time in jail.

Butch was behind bars when he received news from home. He made it the starting line for his personal road to redemption, and his unique role in Scott’s recovery.

“He wrote me a long letter in prison when he heard about my accident,” said Scott. “He came back to West Liberty when he got out and he was at my house every night.”

Butch could no longer drive cars, but he would run miles to get where he wanted to go. He bought an old bike and challenged Scott to ride with him.

“The first time he and Butch went out, he’d have to get off his bike and push Scott uphill,” said Cindee. “He’d bike to the top of the hill, run down and push me up,” said Scott. “He only had to do it four or five times before I got strong enough to stay with him!”

Butch was a talented carpenter and Scott asked a friend to give him a job.  Butch had not stopped drinking, but seemed to have it under control. He never missed work, stayed out of trouble, and kept running and riding with Scott.

Their common bond was a reckless yet tenacious spirit for life. “We were at a bar,” Scott said, recalling one of their last conversations. “He said, ‘Me and you are invincible Boyd!’”

A week later the two men made a choice that Scott will forever regret.  The summer night of Aug. 29, 2018 was two years since Scott’s accident.  The sun was setting, but they decided to go for a late bike ride.

“I got ahead of him,” said Scott.  “I didn’t see the turtle. It was dark. We shouldn’t have gone.  He hit it on the way home.”

Butch must not have seen the dead turtle, lying in the lane on Route 287.  By either hitting or swerving to avoid it he was thrown from his bike.  He was not wearing his helmet and he suffered a severe head injury.  Just as in Scott’s accident two years earlier, he was flown to Miami Valley Hospital clinging to life.

“He was going to do every kind of rehabilitation, everything for me,” said Scott. “We just never planned on this happening.”

Now it was Scott’s turn to go to a friend in need. “I drove down by myself,” he said. “When he was at Miami Valley Hospital I was telling him that same line: ‘One more kick Butch, one more kick.’”

There was no miracle recovery for Butch. He died less than a week later. Scott can’t explain why he is still here and Butch is not.

“He wrecked seven cars, one week a Z28 and the next week a Corvette, and never had an injury,” Scott said. “He lived through so many accidents, kind of like me. “He made it his mission to get me back in shape. I guess when that mission was completed it was his time to go.”

A SHARED LEGACY

Scott’s road to recovery isn’t truly complete. Surgeries remain, and his mind and memory still play tricks, leaving him confused.  More confusing is why a friend, so earnest about turning his life around, is suddenly gone.

“I was the one that wanted to go,” Scott said of that final ride. “It cost him his life. That hits me hard. Mentally that set me back. I didn’t get back on the bike as much.  I thought of him, and now I use it as incentive to get back in shape.”

Butch did have a final mission, or as Scott might say, “one more kick.” The champion long distance runner was an organ donor.

In his final days, Butch sought to help a friend, whose life was saved by blood donors. In death, Butch shared that legacy by giving life to total strangers.

“He had the heart of a lion,” said Scott. “The biggest heart of any person I’ve ever met in my life.”

One more life Butch… one more life.

STATE SEN. STEVE HUFFMAN THANKS DONORS AT HOMETOWN BLOOD DRIVE

sen. steve huffman with steve mccrillis

TIPP CITY, Ohio – State Sen. Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City) can go from the statehouse to the emergency room to a mobile blood drive and always feel right at home. On Thursday, Jan. 24 he visited the United Methodist Church blood drive in his home town of Tipp City to thank donors for supporting the first celebration of January Ohio Blood Donor Awareness Month.

Huffman, a lifelong blood donor and an ER doctor, sponsored House Bill 252 designating January “Ohio Blood Donor Awareness Month” while representing the Ohio House 80th district. He was sworn in as senator for the 5th district on Jan. 7 and a few days later visited the Dayton Community Blood Center to donate with his family.

The stated goal of the new legislation is to increase awareness of the need for blood donations, to encourage more people to give blood, and to recognize the lifesaving contributions of blood and platelet donors.

“There’s a need out there,” said Huffman. “People don’t come out in the cold.  They may be sick and may be deferred. There is still a need for cancer patients, trauma patients, and surgical patients, for all types of blood, plasma, platelets and whole blood.”

CBC is emphasizing the strategic goal of identifying and recruiting a new generation of platelet and plasma donors, and providing more opportunity for these donations at mobile blood drives. Beginning Thursday, the United Methodist Church introduced expanded blood drive hours from 1:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and for the first time included machines for platelet and plasma collection.

Donations increased 35 percent Thursday, totaling 81 whole blood donors and 70 whole blood donations, plus seven platelet donations for 117 percent of goal.  The church hosts blood drive every two months with the next scheduled for March 21.

“I didn’t have a clue what it was,” said new platelet donor Gaye Gabel from West Milton.  She has 56 lifetime donations, but Thursday marked her second platelet donation.  “There’s a need,” she said. “The donors are getting older and there’s a need for younger people.  My father had cancer. I thought if I can help, why not?”

Troy donor Brenda Bodey is a retired postmaster who recently returned to donating after surviving a scare from malignant melanoma. “My daughter works at Dayton Children’s,” she said. “They had a blood drive there and she kind of got me back into it.”  As a type A positive donor, Brenda is a candidate for platelet donations and she is now considering it.

Sen. Huffman made the rounds of the blood drive visiting donors. He congratulated Tipp City neighbor Marjorie Jordan on her milestone 100th lifetime donation.  “I’ve got eight kids, so I missed a lot!” said Marjorie. “But I’m glad I got there!”

Huffman’s friend and fellow donor Steve McCrillis praised him for the Ohio Blood Donor Awareness Month legislation. “I think it’s a good idea to provide more donors and more vision of what’s going on and the opportunities to give,” he said.

“I greatly appreciate all the donors, here and all over that donate blood,” Huffman said. “In the communities like churches here in Tipp City that open their doors to have blood drives, to understand what it is for service, to give back to the community and to help others.  I’m a practicing physician. I give blood, I order blood and I see it on a regular basis: the need and life-saving ability of blood products.”

donor month t-shirt angela, barbara

THE ENDURING STORY OF ‘BABY TRESSEL’ MEINARDI & 8TH ANNUAL MEMORIAL BLOOD DRIVE

tressel1

RICHMOND, Indiana – “Baby Tressel” Meinardi’s life story was tragically short yet it continues to inspire through his family’s dedication to helping save lives. “Storybook” was the theme of the eighth annual “Baby Tressel Day” memorial blood drive Saturday, Jan. 19 at Reid Health in Richmond.

A wintry mix of snow and ice was predicted across the region Saturday, but despite the forecast the blood driver totaled 26 donors and 21 donations for 95 percent of collection goal.

“The weather did not keep our Baby Tressel celebration from happening!” said CBC’s Melinda Frech.  “It turned out great.  Donors who thought they couldn’t make it in, made it on in.  A big thanks to all!”

Tressel’s parents Scott and Emilie Meinardi planned a “Storybook” theme in Reid Health’s Lingle Hall with a birthday cake and table displays featuring favorite books and dolls from children’s literature. Tressel’s younger sisters Scarlet and Grayce hand-picked their favorite storybook characters, including the “Cat in the Hat,” “Arthur,” the “Paddington Bear,” “Pete the Cat,” and “Fancy Nancy.”

Scott wore a “Team Tressel” t-shirt as he made his 21st lifetime donation in his son’s honor.

Tressel was born premature on Jan. 20, 2010 with a heart condition.  He was seven months old when he underwent heart surgery at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. A tragic mistake during the procedure led to his death.

The community rallied around the family by supporting a children’s book drive in Tressel’s honor and the first “Baby Tressel Day” blood drive on Feb. 15, 2012. Mayor Sally Hutton read a proclamation declaring the memorial blood drive part of Richmond’s “Day of Caring.

The Meinardi’s have family in Findlay, Ohio and named Tressel for former Ohio State University football coach Jim Tressel.  They named their daughters Scarlet and Grayce for the Buckeye colors.