REMEMBERING TRESSEL MEINARDI AS A COURAGEOUS LITTLE LION

Scott & Emilie Meinardi with daughters Scarlet & Grayce.

The Meinardi family celebrated the memory of their son Tressel with a “Lion King” theme for the ninth annual Tressel Meinardi Memorial Blood Drive Saturday, Jan. 18 at Reid Health in Richmond. 

Despite wet, icy roads Saturday, the blood drive topped 109 percent of goal with 33 donors and 24 donations.

“The weather did not stop Tressel Meinardi’s Blood Drive from “roaring” in the New Year!” said Community Blood Center’s Melinda Frech. “The memorial blood drive would have been Tressel’s 10th birthday and for this milestone year the family chose a lion theme.”

Tressel Meinardi was born premature and with a heart condition on Jan. 20, 2010. He was seven months old when he underwent surgery at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital where a tragic mistake during surgery led to his death. The first “Baby Tressel Day” memorial blood drive was held Feb. 15, 2012.  

Tressel’s parents Scott and Emilie come from a Findlay, Ohio family of Ohio State football fans. They named Tressel for former Buckeye football coach Jim Tressel. Daughters Scarlet and Grayce are named for the Buckeye colors.

The family dressed in “Lion King” t-shirts for Tressel’s birthday party remembrance and the girls welcomed donors and visitors to the blood drive in Reid’s Lingle Hall to enjoy coloring books, balloons and animal face masks.

Kim Hawkins made her milestone 50th lifetime donation at the blood drive in honor of Tressel and held up a special birthday party cookie. It was shaped like a heart with “courageous” spelled out in frosting in tribute to Tressel.

DONOR FOR LIFE JOURNEY FROM 'LAST TRUCK' TO 'AMERICAN FACTORY' FOR FRIENDS BOBBY & RUSSELL

Brothers Russell & Larry Jenkins with Bobby Allen.

DAYTON, Ohio – Donors Russell Jenkins and Bobby Allen worked side-by-side for 15 years at GM’s Moraine Assembly Plant and still donate side-by-side at the Community Blood Center. They’re used to being thanked for helping save lives, but after donating Jan. 17 at CBC they were treated more like movie stars.

Both appeared in “Last Truck,” the 2009 Academy Award-nominated documentary of the plant’s closing by Yellow Springs filmmakers Steve Bognar and Julia Reichert.  A decade later, Bobby is a hero of the couple’s new, again Oscar-nominated documentary “American Factory.”

“It was a bit part in the last one,” said Bobby. “But it was very special part,” said Russell.

“American Factory” follows the formation of the Chinese-owned automotive glass factory Fuyao Glass America in the same building that had once housed the General Motors bus and truck assembly operation.

The documentary premiered at the Victoria Theatre and was screened at Neon Movies in August 2019. After the Oscar nomination announcement, the Neon decided to bring the film back this weekend for Friday, Saturday and Sunday showings.

Russell made his 206th lifetime donation Friday, joined by his brother Larry making his 158th and Bobby making his 51st donation.  “I’ve known Bobby more than 20 years,” said Russell.  “My brother’s trying to keep up with me, but he can’t catch me.  We all come down here every eight weeks to the day, that’s our plan.”

Russell said he was in much better position to retire after the Moraine Assembly Plant closing.  Bobby went a year and a half without work before the opportunity to work for Fuyao.  He helped Bognar and Reichert chronicle his experience in the “American Factory,” and now enjoys much more satisfying employment with the Centerville City School district. “I’m so happy to be there,” he said.

“It’s basically about the cultural difference between the Chinese and the American worker, and their treatment,” said Bobby. “It’s a story that needs to be told.”

Bobby unrolled an “American Factory” movie poster, covered with signatures of key contributors to the film project. He directed his friend Russell to a key place to sign it. CBC staff gathered around the celebrity donors.

“Everything is unscripted, and everything is to the heart,” said Bobby. “It took three years to make. At 11:30 at night I would leave work and at 11:15 they (Bognar and Reichert) would be at my house. They talked to me until two in the morning; hours and hours of footage.”

Bobby wants people to see the film and make their own judgements. Russell is more direct. “You work in China, you work seven days a week. You don’t get a day off,” he said. “There are so many people. If you worked in a coal mine and there was landslide, they don’t do anything about it.”

Russell worked 27 years at the Moraine plant, Bobby for 15 years. “We walked out together,” said Russell.

“’Last Truck’ opens with the plant closing,” said Bobby. “Every time I see it, and all the people leaving, it brings tears to my eyes. Of the people in the (‘American Factory’) film, I’m the only one that left and quit. All the rest got fired.”

Bobby credits Fuyao for allowing filmmakers considerable access, and is grateful for the backing of the Obamas’ Higher Ground Productions and Participant Media.

“I’m blessed to be part of this project,” he said. “I’ve been to the Sundance Film Festival, the Cleveland International Film Festival, the Victoria Theatre screening here in Dayton. I was impressed. The line was all the way around the block and turned the corner.”

Russell signs Bobby’s movie poster.

'THINGS HAVE GONE FULL CIRCLE' FOR TEACHER, DONOR TOM PETERS

Blood donor, blood recipient Tom Peters

DAYTON, Ohio – Belmont High School teacher Tom Peters is spending this winter at home instead of in the classroom with his special education students or helping with the school’s blood drives. January Ohio Blood Donor Awareness Month has become a time of reflection. After 178 lifetime donations, blood has come back to him.

Tom has donated for decades, averaging four or five donations per year. He would donate at least once a year at the Belmont High fall or spring blood drive. “I think if you can see that your teachers do it, that’s encouragement,” he said.

But his students have not seen Tom since he left school early on a Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019.

“I was feeling very strange,” he said. “I had been battling something for weeks.  When I would take a flight of steps my legs felt like they were full of lead.  I drove home and told my wife I didn’t feel well.  I stood up and felt light headed. I said I need to go to the ER.”

As a blood donor, Tom was familiar with normal hemoglobin readings in his blood. At least 13 grams per deciliter is required to donate.  At the hospital he learned his hemoglobin had dropped to six. “I wound up getting four blood transfusions,” he said.

The first was in the ER.  Three more transfusions were performed during the night.

“It was so surreal,” he said. “All those time times donating blood and seeing that bag of blood wrapped up with the tube and carried away, and to see that coming back.”

Receiving blood was the first line of defense.  Next his doctors had to find out why he was losing blood.

“All they could tell me was that I was bleeding internally,” he said. “They knew it was nothing they could see.”

An arthroscopic procedure and biopsy the next day revealed a tumor bleeding in his stomach. He underwent partial gastrectomy surgery in December. “Thankfully it was not cancer,” he said, “which was a blessing.”

Belmont began a new era in 2011 when it moved to its brand new “Bison Blue” building on Wayne Avenue.  The Bisons reached another milestone the following year when Belmont hosted its first Community Blood Center blood drive.

School nurse Marian Doukoure made the case for the first blood drive and is still the coordinator. She said students might miss class time but would learn valuable lessons about community service. She drew volunteer support from the National Honor Society and the Navy Junior ROTC.

It was natural for NHS to help with the blood drives because Tom was serving as the NHS advisor. He had volunteered for the job to keep the program alive. “No one else was doing it and I didn’t want it dry up and go away,” he said.

Tom knows what it’s like to have part of his high school years taken away. He was a freshman at Xenia High School in April of 1974 when a deadly category F5 tornado stuck the town. It claimed 33 lives, including 12 children, and destroyed more than 1,000 homes and businesses.

“It was a school day, but it was after school,” he said.  “Almost all the schools were pretty much destroyed. We finished the year being bussed to Fairborn and Beavercreek and used their schools at the end of their days. I went all the way through high school that way.”

Rebuilding took time. “They brought in modular classrooms,” Tom said. “The high schools used them in the morning and the junior highs used them in the afternoon, at what was then the Warner Junior High campus. I graduated in ’77. The class of ‘78 graduated from the new high school.”

Tom went to the University of Dayton and started donating blood.  He made many donations outside of the CBC area while working in northwestern Ohio. He returned to Dayton and recognized the need for special education teachers. He’s now in his 12th year at Belmont and hopes to be cleared to return to work in late February or early March.

“I’m getting stronger every day,” he said.  “One day last week I ended up back at the hospital and spent the night in ICU. My calcium was out of whack.”

He hopes to back at work before Belmont’s spring blood drive on April 29. After giving more than 22 gallons of blood in his lifetime, he’ll have to wait and see if he can become a donor again.

“I never thought I would need blood,” he said. “I certainly plan to return as a donor, when I am healthy enough to do so.

“I guess things have gone a full circle.  I never thought it would occur, but this is my story now.”

Tom Peters with 2018 blood drive volunteers.

SAVING LIVES, CRACKING CASES; IT'S IN DAN KRANE'S BLOOD & HIS DNA

DAYTON, Ohio – Wright State University’s Dan Krane is an AB-negative donor, the rarest of all blood types and the universal donor for platelets and plasma.  He gave platelets for his milestone 200th lifetime donation Jan. 10 at the Dayton CBC, so you can say helping save lives “is in his blood.”  But it’s also in his DNA.

Dan now has 200 donations with CBC, but he has several more from his time in Massachusetts where he did post-doctoral research at Harvard and began donating platelets. “When I started, it was the two-arm procedure,” he said.

Dan is among the rare 0.6 percent of people with AB-negative blood. “I have a pretty good platelet count as well,” he said. “I do doubles (double platelet donations) all the time.”

He considers that his “Donor for Life” journey truly began when he was a 10-year old boy, growing up in Cleveland, and enjoying the snow on New Year’s Day.

“I had a sledding accident and needed donations, so that motivated me,” Dan said. “I hit a tree and the sled kicked-back, struck me in the middle. I needed eight units of blood. I lost my left kidney and spleen. That’s why I have such a high platelet count.  When you see very high platelet counts, the person is very often asplenic.”

Biology tells us the spleen is responsible for removing damaged platelets and therefore removal of the spleen can help to keep more platelets circulating in the body. That knowledge comes easy to Dan who has taught biological science at Wright State since 1993.

He was elected president of the WSU Faculty Senate four times and was recently named dean of the 1600 students at the WSU Lake Campus in Salina. He commutes from his home in Xenia.

A clear passion of Dan’s that rivals even his dedication to blood donations, is his study of DNA. He is one of the world’s foremost DNA authorities and has testified as an expert witness in more than 100 criminal trials.

Since 2002 his consulting company, Forensic Bioinformatics, has reviewed hundreds of court cases from around the world and used the data to develop computer-based tools to make forensic DNA profiling more reliable and objective.

“We were the very first successful start-up company at Wright State,” he said.

He has been involved as an expert witness in some of the highest-profile criminal cases, including prosecutions of the “Unabomber’ Ted Kaczynski, the Washington D.C. sniper, and O.J. Simpson.

“That was a rare case where we did work for both the defense and the prosecution,” he said.

As he made his 200th donation he catches up on emails about a new case in need of his expertise. “There’s a person in the Netherlands who wants us to work on his case,” he said. “It was a murder. It’s been dismissed, but he wants to clear his name.”

Before completing his milestone, Dan got to enjoy what he considers one of the rewards of his monthly platelet donations at CBC. “I love the time to read a book,” he said.

DONORS ERASE HOLIDAY SHORTAGE WITH OHIO DONOR MONTH KICKOFF BLOOD DRIVE

DAYTON, Ohio – More than 234 donors filled the Dayton Community Blood Center Friday, Jan. 3 for the January Ohio Blood Donor Awareness Month Kickoff Blood Drive. They helped erase a brief shortage of type O and B-negative blood, replenished the holiday blood supply, and launched a New Year of saving lives.

January Ohio Blood Donor Awareness Month began the day after New Year’s with busy blood drives in Botkins, Piqua, Liberty, Springboro and Springfield. The Miami Valley’s official observance got officially underway with Friday’s Blood Donor Month Kickoff Blood Drive.

Everyone who registered to donate got a free $10 gift card for Kroger, Target, or Amazon. They could also choose the new “Donor Strong” long-sleeve t-shirt or the CBC Blood Donor Winter Scarf.

The blood drive continues Saturday, Jan. 4 at the Dayton CBC from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. with free $10 gift cards again to registered donors.

State Sen. Stephen Huffman (R-5th District) is an emergency room physician and a life-long blood donor who introduced House Bill 252 to designate January as Blood Donor Awareness Month in Ohio. The process began in the summer of 2017, it was signed into law in February 2018, and the first celebration was January 2019.

The first goal of the Donor Month Kickoff Blood Drive was to help boost the blood supply after the holidays with no mobile blood drives on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.  It was also an opportunity to emphasize CBC’s strategic goals for 2020:

  • CBC must increase blood donations in 2020 in order to provide blood to more hospitals outside our traditional 15-county service area. CBC must expand its hospital partnerships to remain viable in the blood industry and to continue serving the Miami Valley region.
  • This will include increasing whole blood donations, continued focus on recruiting new platelet and plasma donors, and a new emphasis on double red blood cell donations.
  • In 2020 CBC seeks to harness the spirit and strength of the Dayton Strong movement to inspire more blood donors and engage more blood drive sponsors, especially in the downtown Dayton community.

RIVALS CJ & CARROLL HELP OHIO'S HOSPICE OF DAYTON WITH UNITY AWARD

RIVALS CJ & CARROLL PRESENT $1,000 UNITY IN COMMUNITY AWARD TO OHIO’S HOSPICE OF DAYTON

DAYTON, Ohio – Rivals Chaminade Julienne and Carroll High Schools battled on the basketball court with CJ claiming an overtime thriller. But they declared truce at halftime as they celebrated their third annual “Unity in the Community” campaign with the presentation of the $1,000 Unity Award to Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton.

The rivals partnered with Community Blood Center and Universal 1 Credit Union for the 2019 Unity campaign. To take part, both high schools host blood drives and they alternate identifying a charity to receive the $1,000 Unity Award sponsored by Universal 1.

CJ hosted the rival basketball game and designated Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton to receive the award. “Our Student Council went there for Make A Difference Day,” said Student Council Advisor and blood drive coordinator Angela Ruffolo. “They wanted to pick the charity, and this was the one they chose.”

“They do work with us there and help with fundraising events.” Said Melissa Rome, who accepted the award at the halftime ceremony on behalf of the Hospice of Dayton Foundation. “It’s very meaningful that they chose us. It goes to benefit patience care and service to the families. Hospice of Dayton turns no one away, regardless of their ability to pay.”

The Unity campaign began with CJ hosting a Unity blood drive on Feb. 22, 2019, followed by Carroll’s Unity blood drive on March 13, 2019.  The rivals combined for 167 donors, including 86 first-time donors and 131 donations.

Participating in the award ceremony were Chaminade Julienne High School Principal Greg Mueller, Athletic Director Jeremy Greenleaf, blood drive coordinator Angela Ruffolo, and students Maria Weizman, Claire Leingang, Kate Schinaman, Andrew Wong and Ellie Reeves; Carroll High School Principal Matt Sableski, Athletic Director Scott Molfenter, blood drive coordinator Laura Wright, and blood drive student chair Ryan Ballou; Universal 1 Credit Union’s Mary Cook and Dan Gouge from and Community Blood Center’s Donna Teuscher.

RIVALS FAIRMONT & ALTER UNITE TO HELP FIGHT HUNGER

KETTERING, Ohio – Rivals Fairmont and Alter High Schools joined forces to help fight world hunger in their fifth annual “Unity in the Community” campaign by dedicating the $1,000 Unity award to the Lesotho Nutrition Initiative in a halftime presentation at the Jan. 4 Fairmont-Alter basketball game.

“Unity in the Community” is a partnership between Archbishop Alter and Fairmont High Schools, Community Blood Center and Universal 1 Credit Union.  Both schools host fall blood drives and jointly present a $1,000 award sponsored by Universal 1 to a designated charity.

The Alter and Fairmont Unity blood drives combined for 281 donors, 138 first-time donors, and 212 donations – a nearly 25 percent increase over last year’s Unity campaign.  First-time donors rose 30 percent.

The schools alternate designating the charity to receive the Unity Award. Representatives from both schools presented the check at the halftime ceremony.

It was Fairmont’s year to name a charity and the Firebirds chose the Lesotho Nutrition Initiative. Lesotho is a small country of two million people, encircled by South Africa. It has an estimated 360,000 orphans and some 550,000 children facing severe malnutrition. The initiative started at Wittenberg University and in the last four years volunteers have packed and sent one million meals to Lesotho.

Alter High students were enthused about Fairmont’s choice because the Alter Key Club has also participated in the Lesotho Nutrition Initiative.