LIGHTS OUT! BUT VERSAILLES POULTRY DAYS COMMITTEE & STEVE KNAPKE MEMORIAL BLOOD DRIVE CARRIES ON

Versailles Poultry Days Committee – Steve Knapke Memorial Blood Drive (L-R) VPD committee officers Justin Feltz, Jordan Luthman & Theresa Slonkosky; Lois Knapke, daughters Emmy D’Antonio & Rachel Durham, son Doug Knapke.

VERSAILLES, Ohio – A year ago both the Versailles Poultry Days Festival and the annual blood drive had to overcome the challenges of COVID-19.  By comparison, the sudden power outage Sept. 20 at the Knights of Columbus Hall was a minor set-back for the fifth annual Poultry Days Committee and Steve Knapke Memorial Blood Drive.

In 2020 COVID delayed and cancelled most of Poultry Days, with the parade replaced by a traffic jam for drive-thru chicken pick-up.  The festival bounced back strong in the summer of 2021 with a record 35,500 dinners sold.

The Knapke family and committee volunteers couldn’t welcome donors or serve special refreshments in 2020, so this year’s blood drive became a homecoming.

Early in Monday’s blood drive an accident on State Route 47 knocked out power. Automated machines drawing platelets and plasma whirred to a halt, resulting in the loss of four in-progress donations. Whole blood donations carried on in dim lighting with the temporary help of a small generator until power was fully restored.

Collections slipped to 83% of goal, yet the blood drive totaled 147 donors, 108 whole blood donations and 13 platelet and plasma donations.

“This year in particular, we’re thankful,” said Steve’s daughter Rachel Durham. “People are very supportive, all through COVID last year and this year. People still come out.”

Steve Knapke was inspired to become a blood donor after surviving a 1988 auto accident. He began giving platelets and had 81 lifetime donations. In2016, another accident, also caused by an impaired driver, claimed his life and seriously injured his wife Lois.

The Knapke family began co-sponsoring the Versailles Poultry Days Committee blood drive in 2017. The mission became more urgent in the past year when Steve’s daughter Emmy D’Antonio was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia.

“I had 19 units transfused this year, so I now have a whole new mission,” said Emmy, whose leukemia is now in remission. “I organized my own blood drive. It wasn’t as big as this, but I brought in 21 new donors, so they were pleased!”

The loss of platelet donations due to the power outage concerned the family because they knew Emmy received platelets. “They were so specific for Emmy and important to us,” said Rachel. “We knew they were losing platelets. That was our biggest fear.”

Versailles’ Jeremy Litten spoke with Lois as he donated. He told her drinking and driving had led to his own accident on a motorcycle. He was seriously injured and was lucky that a neighbor spotted him the next morning lying in a ditch.  “She told me don’t do that no more!” said Jeremy.

Steve’s son Doug donates every year at the blood drive and the family’s goal is to keep encouraging donations. “What he did, that was his legacy,” said Lois. “That’s what you want to have in your life, the things people will remember you by.”

“It’s a great partnership,” said Poultry Days Committee co-chair and blood drive volunteer Justin Feltz.

With a record year at the 2021 festival, the committee can continue to fund Versailles Heritage Park and support 20 non-profit organizations. “It helps our community, our town, our people,” said Justin. “Makes it a better place.”

THE POSITIVE SPIN OF SEPT. 21 NATIONAL APHERESIS AWARENESS DAY

Community Blood Center is celebrating Sept. 21 Apheresis Awareness Day. The goal is to honor our platelet, plasma, and double red donors and our apheresis collection staff for their dedication to saving lives. We also look back on the darkest days of the COVID-19 when many became apheresis donors to help meet the emergency demand for COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma.

Platelet and plasma donors are always in demand because these blood components are critical for the treatment of cancer, trauma, transplant, and burn patients.

In some cases, donors like Jerry Drum from Centerville are called on to help a specific patient because they are an HLA match. Human Leukocyte antigens (HLA) are proteins found in platelets and a donor-patient match means the HLA type is very similar and urgently needed.

Jerry said he gives platelets, “Just to give back.” His Apheresis Day donation happened to be when an HLA match was needed. “I’m doing platelets and plasma, I’m doing what they want,” he said. “They called me about an HLA match when I was in Michigan.  After I got back, I called, and they said they had an HLA match so I came in.”

CBC apheresis staff member Leta Shatsby is a regular whole blood donor. On Apheresis Day she made her first double red blood cell donation.

“I carry a high hemoglobin count so I thought it would be a benefit for me to give double reds,” said Leta. “Now that I’m getting trained in apheresis, I know more of what it’s about. It’s been a great experience to do double reds.”

Leta and her apheresis teammates are wearing “Apheresis Day” ribbons on their name badges and special Apheresis Awareness pins.

The slogan for Apheresis Awareness Day is “Spinning to Advance Apheresis Medicine” because of the automated centrifuge process that spins and separates the blood components.

TRUE TO ITS CORE: ATRIUM MEDICAL CENTER IS A ‘CRISIS HERO’ OF COVID-19

DAYTON, Ohio – Community Blood Center is honoring Atrium Medical Center as a blood supply “Crisis Hero” of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Atrium received the “Crisis Hero Award of Excellence” for continuing to host community blood drives throughout the pandemic, and for helping meet the local and national demand for COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma by sponsoring plasma drives.

Atrium hosted its monthly community blood drive on Sept. 15. CBC’s Sandy Baur presented the award to Atrium Medical Center President Dr. Keith Bricking, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Andre Harris, Human Resources Director Jeanna Severt, Chief Nursing Officer and Chief Operating Officer Kim Hensley, VP of Operations Rhonda Seidenschmidt, Finance Director Lyndsey Pittman, Atrium Foundation President Mike Stautberg, and Public Relations Manager Jennifer Burcham.

“At the core of everything we do is about taking care of patients,” said Dr. Bricking. “Even though COVID was going on, and is still around, we knew blood donations were still needed. With our trauma patients and surgical patients, the need for blood was just as strong. Then with convalescence plasma, the need for antibodies was important as well.”

Early in the pandemic hospitals across the CBC region quickly enforced strict safeguards against COVID-19 that included prohibiting all visitors, and in many cases cancelling blood drives. Atrium recognized blood collection an essential activity and re-opened the hospital for monthly community blood drives in May of 2020.

Atrium hosted nine blood drives in 2020 and has continued its monthly blood drive schedule through 2021.  Also, in February and March of 2021 Atrium hosted four additional “COVID Warrior” drives specifically for the collection of COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma.

Wednesday’s monthly Atrium blood drive totaled 37 donors and 34 donations. Atrium’s next blood drive is Oct. 20 in the Atrium Professional Building fifth floor auditorium.  Make an appointment at www.DonorTime.com or call (937) 461-3220.

CBC HONORS RENFEST FRIENDSHIP WITH BLOOD DROP AWARD

Ohio Renaissance Festival Marketing Director Cheryl Bucholtz with CBC Blood Drop Award.

DAYTON, Ohio – William Shakespeare said, “Friendship is a constant in all things” and Community Blood Center has a loyal friend in RenFest. CBC honored the Ohio Renaissance Festival with the Blood Drop Award for its long support of the blood supply during critical times in early fall.

RenFest has partnered with CBC for more than a decade by providing complimentary festival tickets to help encourage donations during the challenging Labor Day holiday period. The festival provides enough tickets for subsequent September blood drives and special events.

The RenFest Blood Drive on Labor Day weekend included special Sunday hours at the Dayton CBC and totaled 414 donors, including 323 whole blood donors and 91 platelet and plasma donors. A second round of RenFest Blood Drive is scheduled Friday, Sept. 17 and Saturday, Sept. 18 at the Dayton CBC with a free ticket to everyone who registers to donate. Make an appointment at www.DonorTime.com or call (937) 461-3220.

“The Ohio Renaissance Festival has been proud to partner with the CBC for several years,” said Marketing Director Cheryl Bucholtz. “By providing tickets for the CBC’s Labor Day weekend blood drives we are able to encourage blood donors to supply a much needed community organization that services the entire Miami Valley.”

Shakespeare also spoke about the plague as “a time to stand on distance.” COVID-19 interrupted the festival’s 30-year run by cancelling the 2020 season. But this season RenFest promised to rise “like the Phoenix” from the pandemic and returned Sept. 4 and is now operating on a weekend schedule through Oct. 31. Visit www.renfestival.com for more details.

CBC HONORS WARM GLOW CANDLE FOR COMMITMENT TO BLOOD SUPPLY THAT BURNS BRIGHT

CENTERVILLE, Indiana – Community Blood Center is honoring Centerville’s Warm Glow Candle Company for a commitment to the regional blood supply that has burned bright before and during the dark days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

CBC presented the special recognition Blood Drop Award to Warm Glow for its outstanding partnership in 2019, which include supporting key holiday blood drives at Reid Health.  CBC also presented the “Crisis Hero” award to Warm Glow for hosting blood drives during the pandemic year of 2020.

CBC’s Melinda Frech presented both awards to Warm Glow owner Jackie Carberry and office manager Lena Haviland. “COVID changed our plans for presenting the Blood Drop honor to you earlier,” said CBC’s Melinda Frech.  “We honor you also for stepping up as a ‘Crisis Hero’ blood drive sponsor.”

The demand for blood never takes a holiday, nor does patient care at Reid Health.  Warm Glow donated candles for donor gifts at both the July 2, 2019 “Red, White & Blue” July 4th holiday week blood drive and the Dec. 26, 2019 Christmas week blood drive at Reid.

“We love that you use our candles for your blood drives,” said Jackie Carberry. “We are invested in the community and we are very much supported by the community. We feel it’s a good way to give back.”

The scent of Warm Glow Candles helped Reid’s July 4th week blood drive total 263 donors and the Christmas week blood drive drew 174 donors.

“It was heart-wrenching to have to close down our factory and our store,” Jackie said about the challenge of the pandemic. When Warm Glow re-opened, it partnered with CBC to host blood drives in September and December of 2020 at its retail store. It will host another holiday blood drive on Dec. 2.

The company traditionally sponsored the “Warm Glow Days” blood drives during Thanksgiving week at the Richmond CBC Donation Center up until the branch closing in 2015, then transitioned to the Reid Health holiday blood drives.

“My son gives blood and part of the reason he gives is because I am a cancer survivor,” said Jackie. “There was a time in my life when I needed blood, so this is something near and dear.”

Warm Glow’s Centerville factory produces 8,000 to 10,000 candles per day for sale in 2,000 stores across the nation.  “We are all so proud that you have come back, and that people want our product and it’s a draw for you,” said Jackie.

DONORS GET FREE RENFEST TICKET SEPT. 17-18 AT DAYTON CBC

DAYTON, Ohio – Community Blood Center says, “Once more unto the breech, dear friends” with another invitation for donors to give blood and get a ticket to the Ohio Renaissance Festival.

Register to donate Friday, Sept. 17 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. or Saturday, Sept. 18 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Dayton CBC, 349 South Main St. for the free RenFest ticket.  Schedule an appointment at www.DonorTime.com or call (937) 461-3220.

Everyone who registers to donate will also receive the “Cancer Fighters are the GOAT” t-shirt honoring September Blood Cancer and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and October Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The Cancer Fighters t-shirt is the third and final design in the CBC “Blood Donors are the GOAT” campaign. CBC is challenging eligible donors to collect all three designs before the campaign ends on Oct. 30.

The tickets are courtesy of the Ohio Renaissance Festival and are good for one free admission. The festival operates on a weekend schedule through Oct. 31. Visit www.renfestival.com for more details.

DAYTON DRAGONS FANS RALLY FOR DAY AIR BALLPARK BLOOD DRIVE

DAYTON, Ohio – The Dayton Dragons were on the road Sept. 8, beating the Lake County Captains in extra innings to keep their playoff hopes alive. Meanwhile, Dragon fans gathered at Day Air Ballpark to help save lives by supporting the Dragon’s second blood drive of the summer.

Community Blood Center brought two Bloodmobiles to Day Air Plaza on a beautiful September Wednesday. The Dragons encouraged fans to help rebuild the blood supply after Labor Day weekend by offering a free item of Dragon gear to everyone who registered to donate.

The Dragons are accustomed to playing in front of sell-out crowds, and it was a similar response to the blood drive.  CBC totaled 64 donors, including 58 donations and 22 first-time donors for 116% of collection goal.

The Dragons’ first summer blood drive on July 22 was an extra-base hit as well, especially with an impressive tally of 29 first-time donors. But the rally was even bigger for Wednesday’s blood drive with a 26% increase in donations.

“I found out about it at the ballpark, it was on the big screen,” said loyal Dragons fan Dan Catterlin. “When I got outside, I signed up. I used to donate at work, up until I retired.”

Dan donated wearing a Dragons t-shirt and Dragons ball cap and went home with another Dragons cap added to his collection. “I’ve had season tickets for 20-some years, ever since day one,” he said. “As a matter of fact, I just sent in for my next year’s tickets today.”

The Dragons used their network of season ticket holders to recruit donors. “We have season tickets,” said donor Karman Spears, who showed a mobile phone photo of her entire family gathered at a game. “They send us emails constantly!”

Steve Huebner was one of the blood drive’s first-time donors. “I’m a Dragons fan, so I thought ‘Why not here?’” said Steve. “I feel good! I think I’ll keep doing it.”

New Lebanon donor Sharon Johnson has worked at Kettering Health’s Sycamore Medical Center for 20 years. She chose a Dragons ball cap paper weight after donating. “My grandson will love this,” she said. “We’ve gone to games twice this summer.”

Butler Township donor Ellen DiVencenzo made her 56th lifetime donation Wednesday, her first in about six years.  She is a loyal Dragons fan, so when they asked for support, she decided it was time to get off the bench and get back in the game.

“I stopped when I retired,” she said. “I retired and gave up everything! But the Dragons made me feel guilty. I’m a season-ticker holder so they were sending out the messages! I thought it would get me started again. I’ll try to be a regular again.”

20TH ANNIVERSARY OF 9/11 REMEMBRANCE: ALICIA TITUS & THE BLOOD DRIVE IN HER HONOR

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DAYTON, Ohio – Every part of New York’s 9/11 Museum at Ground Zero is somber, sensitive, and heart-breaking. One room stands out for its intensely private – yet so public – remembrances.  It is the room where you can find a photo and read a life tribute of every 9/11 victim, including a beautiful young flight attendant from Urbana named Alicia Titus.

Alicia perished on Sept. 11, 2001 when her hijacked United Airlines flight was flown into a World Trade Center tower.  She was remembered at the former Urbana University by the Alicia Titus Memorial Peace Program, founded by her parents John and Beverly Titus. 

In 2011, the Community Blood Center Alicia Titus Memorial Blood Drive was held on campus in conjunction with other special remembrances. It was part of the five-day Alicia Titus Memorial Peace Program, commemorating the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and culminated with the dedication of the Freedom Grove WTC Memorial on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011.

On the 15th anniversary of 9/11 the Alicia Titus Memorial Peace Run 5K and 1 Mile Walk was held at the Student Center at Urbana University and a “Community Day of Remembrance.”

Much has changed since those commemoratives.  Urbana University was purchased by Franklin University and closed in 2020 at the height of the pandemic.  The last Urbana University blood drive was in 2014.

But Alicia’s memory endures.

The following is a look back at the CBC blood drive in Alicia’s honor. This account was published on the 10th anniversary of 9/11:

In the years since Sept. 11, 2001 Alicia Titus might have married the man she loved and had children.  She might have seen the world as a flight attendant and wrote about the world as a journalist.  Her hometown would have continued to be Urbana, where her visits would bring joy to her parents, John and Beverly Titus, and all the lives she touched.

Instead, memories of Alicia are frozen in time.  She remains the 28 year old Graham High and Miami University graduate who quit her job in finance with a plan to travel and study.   She became a United Airlines flight attendant about eight months before 9/11, the day her hijacked plane struck one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

Over the years her memory might have grown as cold as the 12-foot steel support beam from Ground Zero that is now in place at Urbana’s Freedom Grove Memorial Park.  Instead, on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, her memory was warm and vibrant in the life-affirming peace program at Urbana University and the life-giving blood drive that both bear her name.

On 9/11 thousands flocked to blood banks, including the regional Community Blood Center branches, to donate far more blood than could be readily put to use.  It was out of a need to act, respond in some way, to a national tragedy.  “I do think it’s symbolic,” reflected Alicia’s mother Beverly Titus as the 9/11 anniversary approaches.  “People wanting to do something, donate blood to help other persons, and possibly save their lives.  To me it’s a symbol of everything we’ve gone through since 9/11, all of us as human beings.”

At times, what the Titus family went through seemed more than they could bear.  Alicia’s father John Titus talked vividly about the struggle between strides and set-backs. “People need to realize, grief is a journey that takes you to places you don’t want to go,” he said.  “Places difficult and painful.”

Not only was Alicia’s death a staggering personal loss for the family, her mourning was part of the 9/11 story, and thus a very public grief.  “That’s all part of the journey,” said John Titus.  “You have to deal with it.  Our lives, our grief were exposed to the public. If it is exposed, let people see what we’re going through.  It also has been a faith journey.  You question everything when something like this happens to you.”

In the first year after 9/11 John tried to keep a journal, and supporters suggested he should publish it.  But the process was too painful and emotionally draining.  He had to put it aside.

Then in 2002, with the encouragement of family and church friends, the family launched the Alicia Titus Memorial Peace Program at Urbana University.  Both John and Beverly are Urbana graduates, John was dean of the university for 11 years, and Alicia was enrolled for a semester while earning money to finish at Miami.

It grew into the Alicia Titus Memorial Peace Fund, which supports the Memorial Peace Program.  The dream is to one day endow a chair in a peace studies program at Urbana.

John and Beverly Titus also became active in “Peaceful Tomorrows,” the anti-war organization founded by families of 9/11 victims, whose mission is described as turning grief into action for peace.

“It seems to be the right thing to do.  The way to honor Alicia and her memory,” said Beverly Titus.  “The way she chose to live her life, to do something different in the world.  To counter all that violence, bloodshed, the way they were killed.  A way unlike her and the way she lived her life.”

Along the way, John Titus returned to his journal writings and was able to transform them into a book, “Losing Alicia – A Father’s Journey After 9/11.”  It will be published by Friesen Press in September.  He says writing it helped him rediscover “a wonderful gift:  The feeling of joy without pain on the other side of it.”  He says losing Alicia shook his faith, but made him stronger and dedicated to the Peace Program goal of “creating a culture of peace.”

“I still feel sadness and I am OK with that,” he said.  “I welcome it when it comes.  It’s real and part of me.  I accept that.  It comes with having the love I had for my daughter, a love that never ceases.”

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A LABOR OF LOVE: GIVE BLOOD, GET RENFEST TICKET TO HELP LABOR DAY WEEKEND BLOOD SUPPLY

The Ohio Renaissance Festival has returned to Harveysburg after last year’s pandemic postponement and that means the RenFest Blood Drive tradition is back at the Dayton CBC with free RenFest tickets to help boost the blood supply during the challenging Labor Day weekend.

Blood donors get to choose between a free RenFest ticket or a Kroger $10 gift card (and get the new “Cancer Fighters are the GOAT” t-shirt) Friday, Sept. 3 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 4 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and special hours Sunday, Sept. 5 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Dayton CBC on South Main St. Make an appointment at www.DonorTime.com or call (937) 461-3220.

Like a good joust, donors considered the handy choice of a Kroger gift card vs. the fun-oriented choice of a fall weekend visit to the festival

“I took the RenFest ticket,” said Kettering donor Tom Whitney as he donated Friday at the RenFest Blood Drive. “I hadn’t been ever, and I plan to go this year. “I’m a big fan of medieval, blacksmithing and all that stuff!”

Amy Ballachino and her husband Michael Shommer donated together Friday and talked about their plans for the festival. “We haven’t done it in 20 years,” said Amy. “We wanted to get down here and donate and we said, ‘Let’s do it!’”

“We’re definitely going to go, and we’re going to take our daughter,” said Michael. “She’s 12 years old and always wants to try something new. She’s interested in new experiences.”

Dayton Dwire is a regular donor on Labor Day weekend because he is such a fan of RenFest. He’s glad to see the festival making a comeback this year. “My last time going was two years ago,” he said. “I try to donate this weekend every year, especially when I see the tickets here. I watch for that.”

Oakwood donor David Laatz couldn’t refuse the Kroger gift card. “I’ve heard of the Renaissance Festival. I used to live in California and remember it there. It would be fun to go and watch the people.”

Xenia donor Tom Dempsey opted for a Kroger card, ultimately because he’s not include to suit up in armor and jump on a horse. “I can use it for a couple of gallons of gas!” he said.

The free tickets are courtesy of the Ohio Renaissance Festival. CBC will be open Sunday, Sept. 5 for a special day of collections but will be closed Monday, Sept. 6 for Labor Day. The ticket is good for free admission on any operating day of the 2021 season.

As Shakespeare said about the plague, it was a time to stand on distance. COVID-19 interrupted the Ohio Renaissance Festival’s 30-year run by cancelling the 2020 season. The festival returns Saturday, Sept. 4 and operates on a weekend schedule through Oct. 31. Visit www.renfestival.com for more details.

CBC HONORS ESSENTIAL WORK OF STAFF DURING SEPT. 5-11 NATIONAL BLOOD COLLECTORS WEEK

DAYTON, Ohio – Community Blood Center is honoring its blood collection staff and phlebotomists everywhere whose frontline work through the COVID-19 pandemic is helping save lives every day. CBC is celebrating the 16th annual National Blood Collectors Week Sept. 5-11 in partnership with the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) and Fresenius Kabi.

CBC is calling on the community to help rebuild the blood supply after the Labor Day holiday weekend by donating during Blood Collectors Week Sept. 5-11. Everyone who registers to donate at the Dayton CBC Donation Center, 349 South Main St. will receive a “Blood Donors are the GOAT” tote bag in addition to the “Cancer Fighters are the GOAT” t-shirt. Make an appointment at www.DonorTime.com or call (937) 461-3220.

Blood collectors serve as a vital link between donor and patient, ensuring they receive the blood components they need.  Their work has been more vital than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic.  At the height of the pandemic blood donation was deemed an essential activity and blood collection essential work for the public good.  Through this dedication CBC was able to avert the additional public health crisis of a blood shortage.

 “We rely on the strength, passion and experience of our staff to ensure our hospitals and patients receive the blood components they need,” said CBC Donor Services Director Tracy Morgan. “This has been especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic.  We are proud of our team and recognize their dedication to screening and drawing donors during difficult times. They adapted to every challenge and kept the blood supply flowing.”

Blood Collectors Week was co-created and is sponsored by AABB, an international association for individuals and institutions in the fields of transfusion medicine and cellular therapies, and Fresenius Kabi, a global health care company that specializes in medicines and technologies for infusion, transfusion and clinical nutrition.

During this week, CBC will join more than 270 blood centers across the U.S. celebrating their blood collectors who have gone above and beyond to create a positive donor experience and ensure a steady blood supply.

Health care professionals associated with blood collection include phlebotomists, apheresis operators, medical directors and donor recruiters.