Bill Rush 400 LTD celebration

Dayton donor William “Bill” Rush had just a few words to say as he celebrated his milestone 400th lifetime blood donation at the Dayton Community Blood Center on July 18.  He turned the congratulations around by telling everyone, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

Bill joined an exclusive club of currently only 16 active CBC donors who have passed the 400 donation milestone.  He was happy for the traditional applause, posters, cupcakes and special blood drop cake.  But his deepest and most humble gratitude was simply for the opportunity to help save lives.

“I just know how important it is that people need blood,” he said. “It’s an important thing in your life and it’s a great benefit.  As long as I’m able to do it, I’ll continue doing it.”

Bill recalls first donating in his hometown of Mansfield.  “I was working at Cappen Stoves. “They came over there with a blood drive,” he said. “I was 18.”

He came to Dayton to work for Whirlpool and immediately began donating at CBC blood drives. He retired at age 62 when Whirlpool moved from Dayton to Greenville. He became a platelet donor in December of 2012, and since then has tried to average a full schedule of 24 donations per year.

“I was able to donate more often,” he said about giving platelets and plasma. “I just thought it was more important for other people to be able to give more.” Bill reached his 400th donation milestone with his 17th donation of 2018.

Bill remains an active 81 year old.  His friend and fellow donor David L. Cramer met Bill at the Dayton Senior Olympics. “He did bowling, badminton, track and field, lots of different sports,” said David. “He wore a blood donor t-shirt to an event and I said, ‘You’re a blood donor too!’”

Bill credits his exercise routine for keeping him healthy and able to donate. “I’m a stretch-aholic!” he said. “I exercise five days a week. My favorite exercise is water aerobics at the YMCA. I like to do yoga too. I’m a yoga fanatic.”

He took exercise classes at Sinclair Community College and sometimes filled in as substitute yoga instructor. “Exercise and donating are the two most important things in my life right now,” he said.

His son Michael and his two granddaughters live in Arlington, Texas.  He still mourns the loss of his daughter Elizabeth who died of brain cancer at age 50.  “You never expect your children to go before you do,” he said.

He prides himself on his “flexibility,” both on the yoga mat, and in keeping a full schedule of platelet and plasma donations.  Bill is racing no one but his self, and his mission to help save lives, when he talks about his next milestone: “My next goal will be the ‘Indianapolis 500!’”

William 'Bill' Rush - 400 LTD


ANNA, Ohio – Kelly Schmitmeyer is a church music director and piano teacher, and until last Christmas season, a frequent blood donor.  She is still able to play despite a lingering numbness in her thumb.  It reminds her to remain grateful for the “miracle” that saved her.

The Anna Rescue Squad blood drive on July 17 at Anna Elementary School marked the one year anniversary of Kelly’s last blood donation.  This year, she came to watch her children donate. She is still amazed by how suddenly she went from healthy blood donor to emergency blood recipient.

“It was the day before the McCartyville blood drive. I had planned to donate,” she said. The blood drive was set for Dec. 19, 2017 at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, and it would have been Kelly’s 44th lifetime donation.

“I didn’t have any warning signs. I got up and didn’t feel good. I passed out,” she said. “My daughter and husband did CPR until the squad got here and took over.”

She learned later she had suffered a pulmonary embolism from a blood clot in her leg that moved to her lungs. She was fortunate that her husband Gary, a volunteer firefighter, had not yet left for work at the Honda of America plant.  And that her daughter Jodie was there, just two days after graduating from the nursing program at Wright State University.

“I didn’t realize it at the time, but once we were at the hospital, I didn’t think she was going to make it,” said Gary.  “From being on other calls with that… it was lucky. Our department saved two with CPR last year.”

“At the time you don’t really think about it,” said Jodie who is now a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit at Miami Valley Hospital.  “But the next day, it hit me.”

Kelly went first to Wilson Health and then Miami Valley Hospital.  “My daughter said I was given six units of blood and two of platelets,” she said.  Her emergency treatment included the blood transfusions and powerful clot-dissolving medications.

“I’m not sure of the exact course of events those first three days,” she said.  “I was resuscitated several times. There was internal bleeding.  I was at Miami Valley Hospital a total of 13 days.”

“It was very scary,” Kelly said.  “I’ve been told numerous times at Miami Valley I was like a miracle. They didn’t see many people with the outcome I had. To regain everything back, I don’t know how to describe it. It’s humbling.”

Her next stop was Ohio Living Dorothy Love in Sidney for rehabilitation.  She slowly gained strength and received physical therapy for numbness in her hand.  She went home on Jan. 19.

“It was the answer to lots of prayers. For some reason God kept me around.  It was a surprise to survive to begin with. There was not much hope in those early days.”

By March Kelly had returned to work, and to her piano lessons.  “Initially I had numbness in three fingers,” she said. “I still have some in the thumb now. The doctor said it could go away, and could take up to a year.”

The suddenness of the illness is still bewildering. “It was very surprising to me, considering I’m only 47 years old,” she said. “I’m very active in what I do. I’m not sure why.”

The Schmitmeyers have always been a blood donor family. Now they are also donating for Kelly.  Gary made his 58th lifetime donation at Honda in May.  Jodie made her 13th lifetime donation at the Anna Rescue Squad blood drive.  Kelly’s youngest son Ben, a senior at Anna High, made his eighth lifetime donation.  Her daughter Mindy, a student at Ball State University, has eight lifetime donation.

“I want people to be aware of the importance of it,” said Kelly. “I’m just grateful that it was there when I needed it.  There was not a shortage. It’s important for people to know for every donation they give, that could save several lives.”


Aimee HaskinsA hot and clammy Friday the 13th for the mid-summer Kettering Unity in Community Blood Drive at Trent Arena couldn’t jinx the joint effort between neighboring rivals Alter and Fairmont.  It served as a sizzling start to the fourth annual Community Blood Center/Universal 1 Credit Union Unity Campaign.

Despite the high temperatures the July 13 blood drive totaled 146 donors, including 31 first-time donors and 104 blood donations.

The summer blood drive serves as the kick-off for the 2018-2019 “Unity in the Community” Campaign.  The schools work together to help save lives by hosting fall blood drives; then help improve lives in the local community by jointly choosing a recipient for the $1,000 Unity Award sponsored by Universal 1.

Many students and families were encouraged by the choice of a free Kings Island ticket as a donor gift when they registered to donate.  Students who had participated in previous Unity campaigns were excited about focusing on fall and a new chance to help the community.

“I have a lot of Alter friends, and they compete in everything,” said Fairmont student Rae Melowic who made her second lifetime donation at the Unity blood drive. “I think this is pretty cool that instead of a competition it’s working together on something that helps someone.”

In the 2017-2018 Unity campaign the Fairmont and Alter blood drives totaled 268 donors, including 131 first-time donors and 217 blood donations.  Fairmont’s choice for the Unity Award was Camp Kesem, a summer camp and peer support program for children with family members fighting cancer.

Friday was one last chance to support the Unity campaign for donors Matthew Weisman and Anna Lechleiter, both 2018 Alter graduates.   “I like it, I like the idea,” they said. “After all, it’s for a good cause. There’s nothing wrong with a little friendly competition!”

Fairmont’s Unity blood drive will be Oct. 26 followed by Alter’s on Nov. 7.  Alter will choose the Unity Award recipient with the presentation at the Alter-Fairmont basketball game.



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.”