JERRY YOWLER KEPT THE DAYTON TROLLEYS RUNNING… NOW HE KEEPS THE DONATIONS COMING

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Kettering donor Jerry Yowler likes to keep things running. He spent 30 years fixing the electrical trolleys and buses at the Dayton RTA, and still tinkers with machinery. At age 72, he’s still making downhill runs during ski season.  On Sept. 9 he continued a “Donor for Life’ run of helping save lives with his milestone 200th lifetime blood donation at the Dayton Community Blood Center.

Jerry made his first donation when he was still a teen. “It was for my grandfather,” he said. “He was having surgery. I thought that was a neat thing.”

Jerry grew up near New Carlisle on a 20-acre farm that is still in the family.  He went to Northwest High School and recently celebrated his 50th reunion with classmates.

“I got married in the late 70’s and moved to Bellbrook, and I started coming down here,” he said about his long history with CBC. “I was hired at RTA and came down here (the Dayton CBC) every eight weeks.”

He worked at RTA for 30 years and retired in 2012.  Driving a bus was never his interest.

“I fixed buses,” he said with pride. “I worked 19 years on trolleys. That was awesome. Dayton was one of six cities in the nation that had them. I worked in the machine shop on different electrical motors. I thought it was a neat thing to be an electrical mechanic on a bus.”

Jerry met his wife Kathleen at the Springfield Ski Club.  The have been married 42 years and have two children and three grandchildren.

“I started skiing in the winter of ’64 at Bellefontaine,” he said. That was when Mad River Mountain Ski Area was still called “Valley Hi.”

Dayton’s trolley days are gone, but Jerry still likes repairing challenging machinery that has a bit of history. “A friend of mine that I retired with, we’re working together now,” he said. “We worked for years together for RTA, and he has his own business.”

A favorite project was repairing a giant factory air compressor. It was old, yet still useful, and practically as big as a bus. It was a source of satisfaction to get the man-made whirlwind running again.

There are events that bring him down to earth and give him more reason than ever to keep donating. “I had friend we went to school with, and she had stage-four cancer,” he said.  “That blew me away.”

The RTA ran on time with Jerry in the machine shop, and his routine whole blood donations will stay on schedule. “I like to think that I’m helping someone,” he said. “I’ve been healthy all my life.”

 

SORORITY SISTERS SHINE AT ‘ANCIENT GREEK WEEK,’ MIAMI’S BIGGEST BLOOD DRIVE

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OXFORD, Ohio – The nearly 40-year legacy of blood drives at Miami University may seem like ancient history to current students, but they helped write a fresh chapter with the 2016 “Ancient Greek Week” Blood Drive held Sept. 20-21 at the Shriver Center.

“Ancient Greek Week” was the theme of the Sept. 17-22 campus-wide celebration that traditionally combines community service with a competition between all MU fraternities and sororities.  The two-day blood drive gives chapters an opportunity to earn points toward the overall Greek Week title by recruiting the most members to register to donate.

Donors came out in large numbers on Tuesday with 200 registrations to donate. Support from first-time donors helped make Wednesday even busier with 226 registrations. The final two-day total was 426 donors, 216 first-time donors and 340 donations.

The 2016 Greek Week Blood drive turned out to be a repeat of the “Sisters Act” from a year ago, when sorority donors outnumbered the fraternity donors by a more than two-to-one ratio.  This year the women jumped to a three-to-one advantage with 250 successful female donors compared to 80 by the guys.

“My housemates are my best friends and we’re all in different sororities, so it’s really cool that it’s something we can do together,” said Liana Clareson, a senior Phi Mu member from Columbus who made her fourth lifetime donation Tuesday.   “We’re competitive, but it’s more about the community. That’s what Greek Week is all about, donating blood and helping out CBC.”

The sororities were also well represented by volunteers at the check-in desks and Donor Café. Kappa Alpha Theta sisters Meg Scott and Sarah Armstrong earned service hours as they handed out cookies and juice to donors. “We’re scared of needles so we’d rather volunteer!” said Sarah.

Theta Chi volunteers Frank Higgins, James Grisanti and Matthew Wheatley also helped out as volunteers, and gave moral support to Mary Mamone, a Phi Beta Phi from Cleveland as she prepared to make her first lifetime donation. “I feel great!” said Mary.

Even though he was outnumbered by the sororities, Delta Tau Delta fraternity member Alexander Grace deserved extra credit for showing up to donate.  He started the school year by tearing ligaments in his ankle on Labor Day and has been getting around campus with one knee on a “scooter.”

“I call him ‘Scooter Boy,’” said fraternity brother Carlos Pozuelo.   But Alexander wasn’t going to let the injury prevent him from donating. “I had no qualms about it,” he said. “It wasn’t too bad. It’s a good way to give back.  I wasn’t able to give blood when I was in high school because I was playing sports all the time.”

Jack Vitou, a Theta Chi from Cleveland, made his third lifetime donation Tuesday to help save lives, and to support his fraternity during Greek Week. “It’s a good cause and a competitive edge to a good cause,” he said.

All supporters are part of the MU legacy. CBC held its first college campus blood drives at Miami in 1978. By 2001 MU was hosting 12 blood drives a year.  Last year there were 18 blood drives on campus supported by more than 1,800 donors.  The Greek Week Blood Drive became a two-day blood drive in 2007 and continues to be CBC’s biggest blood drive of the year.

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DEDICATED ‘RED CORD’ DONORS LEAVE LEGACY AT KETTERING FAIRMONT HIGH SCHOOL

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KETTERING, Ohio – The Kettering Fairmont High School class of 2016 has left a legacy of helping save lives and helping their school.  Community Blood Center awarded a $1,000 High School Leadership Grant to Kettering Fairmont recognizing student donors who gave blood multiple times during their high school years.

CBC presented the award for “Red Cord Excellence” on Sept. 15 to senior members of the United Student Body, the student government organization that sponsors Kettering Fairmont blood drives.  The award is an indicator of strong student support at multiple blood drives.  The class of 2016 had 81 graduates who qualified for the CBC Red Cord Honor Program by registering to donate at least three times during their high school career.

“As a whole school we are supportive of the blood drives,” said Kettering Fairmont Activities Director Corey Miller who serves as faculty advisor for the United Student Body and blood drive coordinator.  “Students see teachers and staff members donating on the bed next to them and that stands out to the kids.”

Many Red Cord recipients began donating at age 16, which requires parental consent. “The 16 year olds get excited – ‘I’m 16 and this is something I can do,’” said Cory. “Bringing the blood drive to them is helpful for the first time because they’re comfortable donating in their school.”

Kettering Fairmont hosted two CBC blood drives in 2015-2016 and registered 407 donors.  Fairmont had the second highest number of donors among the 118 high schools in CBC’s 15-county service area, ranking second only Wayne High School with 472.

Wayne won the CBC High School Leadership Grant for “Most Donors.” Other grant winners included Seton Catholic High School for “Highest Percentage of Participation,” Butler Tech Bioscience Center for “Second Highest Percentage of Participation,” and Warren County Career Center for “Most Improved.”

Kettering Fairmont will host two blood drives in 2016-2017 beginning with a fall blood drive Nov. 3 and a spring blood drive March 10, 2017.

‘WE’RE GOING TO ALASKA!’ DREAM COMES TRUE FOR ‘WILD ABOUT ALASKA ADVENTURE’ WINNER JIM FINNEGAN

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DAYTON, Ohio – Hamilton donor James Finnigan needed a reality check after getting the news that he would be traveling to Alaska as winner of the Community Blood Center “Wild About Alaska Adventure for Two Summer Blood Drive” drawing.  The news came as shock, even though he had predicted it.

“Wow! I never won anything in my life,” he said. “Seriously, I told my son Colin ‘I’m going to give blood and win a trip to Alaska for you and me.’”

Everyone 18 and older who registered to give blood with CBC from May 2 to Sept. 3 was automatically entered in the drawing.  Jim entered the drawing when he made his 48th lifetime donation on June 1 at the Fort Hamilton Hospital blood drive.

“Honestly, what you are doing is changing people’s lives,” CBC Donor Relations Director Andrew Keelor told Jim.  “We were able to sustain an adequate inventory throughout the summer. When there was a national shortage our donors stepped up to the plate.”

The reward of a dream vacation comes at a time when both Jim and Colin are setting personal goals and taking on new challenges.

Colin is the second youngest of Jim’s seven children.  He recently completed service in the U.S. Army and is now studying architecture at Miami University Hamilton.  A stand-out football player in high school, Colin plans to walk-on at Miami University Oxford next year.

Jim spent 37 years as an educator, including 15 years teaching religion at Badin High School, but is now transitioning to a new career in trucking.  A Butler County grant has covered the cost of his training.

“There’s not a lot of opportunity teaching religion in Catholic school,” he said. “I want to be in the area for my son in college and playing football.  I’ve been unemployed for two and a half years now.  I was looking for teaching jobs and saw all these trucking jobs.”

He’s excited about starting a new job and planning a special adventure.

“That’s a chance of a lifetime,” he said.  “I’ve always wanted to go to Alaska. It’s always been a dream. This is a dream. It’s wonderful. It’s a dream come true. Like I said to my son, ‘we’re going to Alaska.’”

Colin remembers Jim’s prediction about winning the Alaska trip. “I was kind of like – ‘whatever,’” he said.  Now he says, “I’m pretty excited about seeing all the nature up there, bears, moose!”

Jim has donated the equivalent of eight gallons of blood during his lifetime.  As both an O negative donor and a CMV-negative donor, his blood type is in constant demand, especially for young hospital patients.  He knows it’s important to stay healthy so he can help others.  He considers it simple maintenance, much like taking care of a truck engine.

“I think it’s just a wonderful thing to do,” he said. “It always makes me feel better physically. I understand engine parts and how important oil is, and blood is same way for the body. It’s like changing my oil, I feel better.”

Jim and Colin celebrated the Alaska trip by donating together during their Friday, Sept. 16 visit to the Dayton CBC. It was Jim’s 49th lifetime donation and Colin’s fourth. Jim’s donation was immediately designated for a pediatric patient.

“I’m O negative, a universal donor,” he said.  “So it’s nice getting a phone call, ‘three babies received your blood at this hospital.’ It’s a lift. That’s what life is all about.”

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MELVIN BOERGER IS A ‘DONOR FOR LIFE’ THANKS TO AUNT & WIFE

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Englewood’s Melvin Boerger gives credit to two key women in his life for encouraging him to become a “Donor for Life.”  But he also enjoyed a deep personal satisfaction for accomplishing a personal milestone – his 300th lifetime donation Sept. 1 at the Dayton Community Blood Center.

Melvin’s commitment to blood donations is grounded in his sense of family and community.  Melvin grew up in rural Shelby County where supporting blood drives is a way of life. Shelby County ranks only ninth in population among the 15 counties in CBC’s service area, yet ranks third in total number of registered donors. About one out of four people in the county is a blood donor.

“That’s thanks to my aunt,” says Melvin. He was inspired early on by his aunt Irene Boerger who was the long time county coordinator for CBC’s “Shelby County Blood Bank.” “Only people can manufacture blood,” she told the Sidney Daily News at the Sidney Moose Lodge blood drive back in 1966. “It takes an hour of your time to give someone a chance to live.”

Melvin began donating while serving in the U.S. Army at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He remember donating with CBC soon after it began operations in 1964 in Dayton’s Fidelity Building.

“I donated down the street in the basement of the Fidelity Building,” Melvin recalled. “My wife Jane was a nurse and she had a patient at Good Sam Hospital that needed blood. So I came down to donate for him.  That’s how I got started.”

Melvin spent 32 years as a project manager with AT&T where his main client was the Air Force Logistic Command. He retired in 1998, went to work for Sprint and retired for good in 2003.  Melvin and Jane have three children and five grandchildren.

Melvin became an apheresis donor in the early ‘90’s and now tries to donate platelets or plasma twice a month.

Jane still works one day a week at Miami Valley Hospital South doing clinical trials for cancer patients. She’s also his biggest cheerleader as he continues his “Donor for Life” journey of helping save lives.

“All through the year, I wanted to see if I could get to 300 donations before the end of the year, and I was able to do it.” Melvin said.  “My wife keeps telling me how much cancer patients use platelets.”

SINCLAIR BASEBALL TARTAN PRIDE ‘GETS THE JOB DONE’ BY HELPING SAVE LIVES

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Coach Steve Dintaman expects his Sinclair Community College baseball team to swing for the fences both on the field and in the community. The Tartan Pride’s third-place finish in the NJCAA Division II World Series last spring was the school’s highest in history, and the number of players volunteering to donate blood Monday, Sept. 26 during the team’s annual visit to the Dayton Community Blood Center was out of the park as well.

Steve got the rally going by being the first to donate. His milestone 30th lifetime donation truly set the pace as his team batted in order right behind him.  A record 33 players registered to donate, resulting in enough donations to nearly match Steve’s lifetime total.

“I knew when I got to 29 it would be perfect timing to be able to get it done with the team donation,” said Steve.

The CBC Donor Room was suddenly jammed Monday afternoon with the boys of summer, all wearing their grey Sinclair baseball t-shirts and trademark red and white ball caps.  It’s a fall tradition for the team to visit the Dayton CBC, but it usually begins with an orientation session about blood donations. Steve used a different strategy, asking those interested in donating to come at an earlier time and nearly the entire team responded.

“I was surprised!” said Steve. “I know there was about a dozen that it was their first time donating. To show up and get it done – which is fine by me.”

That was despite a late return Sunday night from a weekend of scrimmage games against several junior college teams in Indiana.

“We’re pretty close,” said Cody Dennis, who was the first player to donate. “Most of us are from pretty far away. We got there a couple of weeks before school started and started hanging out.  All the sophomores that were here are pretty cool too. We do a lot together.”

Before the visit Steve sent the team an email link to a video made by former Sinclair pitcher Dan Jensen from Centerville. Dan explains how his carotid artery was “nicked” during routine tonsillectomy surgery the summer before his freshman year at Sinclair.  Twice he was rushed to the hospital with massive bleeding, nearly choking to death in the middle of the night when a second surgical repair failed.

He survived thanks to multiple blood transfusions. He worked himself back into shape, became an ace pitcher for Sinclair and then the University of Cincinnati. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds and came home in 2012 to play for the Dayton Dragons.

Dan Jensen’s story helped launch the partnership between Sinclair baseball and CBC, but each new player writes a new chapter when they become a blood donor.

“I was pretty scared,” said first-time donor John Cheatwood. “But I swear I didn’t feel it at all. They did a great job!”

‘KEEPING A LIFE IS LIKE GIVING A LIFE’ SAYS MARY BECKER AFTER 100TH BLOOD DONATION

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Huber Heights donor Mary Becker amazed herself when she donated platelets Aug. 30 at the Dayton Community Blood Center to reach her milestone 100th lifetime blood donation. “I had no idea I had given that often,” she said.

Mary’s journey to her milestone goes back decades and it includes her experience with the early machinery used for apheresis donations of platelets and plasma. “I was a two-arm person when I started!” she said.

It’s worth noting that Mary is still a “two-arm” person!  She was referring to the early machines that required a needle in each arm. One needle was to draw blood as the machine removed the platelets while the other needle returned the other blood components to the donor.  Apheresis now requires only one needle and “one arm.”

Mary started on the journey to her milestone by donating whole blood. “My uncle needed blood for surgery,” she said. “They asked for people to try to replace it.  After I got started I just gave when I could.  Apheresis people called and I said I’ll try it.”

Mary said, “For the last 16 years I’ve only given a couple of times.” But that changed in March when she went to a mobile blood drive at St. Peter Parish.  She soon began donating platelets again at the Dayton Donor Center. She made nine donations over the summer, carrying her quickly to her 100th donation.

“I have given more over the last few months,” she said.  She spoke of her husband, her daughter and her three grandchildren, and that seemed to inspire what it means to be a Donor for Life. “I feel that helping keep a live is like giving a life,” she said.   As she spoke those words, she seemed to have amazed herself again.