GREENVILLE, Ohio – Tuesday, Nov. 8 was an extra busy Election Day for many Greenville donors. They cast their ballots in the presidential race then voted for their Buckeyes and for helping save lives at the annual Darke County Ohio State University Alumni Club “Tailgate Blood Drive” at the Greenville Church of the Brethren.
Most donors had no problem transitioning from the red, white and blue at the polls to the scarlet and gray at the Tailgate Blood Drive. “I voted just before I came over,” said Greenville donor Anna Kocher. “When I went to vote there was no wait. Am I a Buckeye fan? Oh yes!”
“I was a little worried,” said Amanda Swisshelm, who wore her “I Voted” sticker while making her 24th lifetime donation Tuesday. “I changed my work schedule so I could fit them both in.”
The alumni club volunteers again stocked the Donor Café with tailgate treats that of course included home-made chocolate and peanut butter Buckeyes. The blood drive totaled 130 donors with 108 whole blood donations and 11 platelet and plasma donations.
Yes, it was a long day, but donors got a boost when celebrity cheerleader “OSU Buckeyeman” Larry Lokai made his annual visit to the blood drive. Larry is the Ohio State “Super Fan” seen often at nationally-televised Buckeye games and he arrived in his trademark face paint, wild shock of a scarlet-and-gray wig, and a massive mane of Buckeye necklaces.
“I made 20 Buckeye necklaces for donors, staff or the volunteers – any Buckeye fan that wants one,” said Larry. He made the rounds of the Tailgate crowning donors with necklaces and posing for pictures that he quickly posted to his Facebook page.
Donors Cheryl Means and Kim Claudy passed their smartphones back-and-forth as they snapped photos with the OSU Buckeyeman. They listened as Larry talked about the OSU history that comes with his Buckeye necklaces.
“I’ve collected one-point-four million buckeyes over the years,” he said. He provides a buckeye for every freshman and new student at Ohio State and makes necklaces for fans and his own costume.
“The necklaces I wear have 103 buckeyes for the number of times we’ve played Michigan,” he said. “They weigh seven pounds, which by coincidence is the number of Ohio State Heisman Trophy winners. There are eight necklaces for our eight national championships. I’ve made nearly 39,000 necklaces in about 18 years.”
OSU Alumni Club volunteers Don and Jan Boyer met at Ohio State (both are class of ’59) but lived in Flint, Michigan for 38 years while Don worked for GM. They came back to Ohio in ’99 and have been loyal supporters of the alumni club and blood drive.
Jan and the Alumni Club are dedicated to keeping alive Tailgate Blood Drive traditions. That includes the cheese balls made popular by long-time alumni club volunteer Tot Heinrichs (OSU ’49) who now lives in Columbus with her daughter.
“We miss her,” said Jan. “I made the cheese balls. I tried to make them taste like hers, but that’s hard to do!”