GREENVILLE, Ohio – An early November snowfall couldn’t stop more than 100 Buckeye-loving blood donors from turning out to tailgate with “Buckeyeman” and “Tress” at the Nov. 12 Darke County Alumni Club Tailgate Blood Drive.
It wasn’t quite “Snow Bowl” weather like the 1950 OSU-Michigan game lore. It wasn’t even Michigan Week, with just lowly Rutgers on the schedule this Saturday. But for many, the snowy path to the Greenville Church of the Brethren began a journey back to younger days.
The Tailgate Blood Drive was also special thanks to tailgate refreshments, courtesy of the OSU Alumni Club volunteers, and “superfan” special guests “OSU Buckeyeman” Larry Lokai and “Tress” look-alike Dennis Singleton.
Buckeye boosters and casual fans alike combined to help the blood drive reach 100 percent of collection goal with 115 donors, including 97 whole blood donors and 18 platelet and plasma donors.
“It’s from people stepping up,” said OSU Alumni Club President Bill Barga, who praised a small but dedicated group of club volunteers. He said the club is still challenged to recruit new alumni, because although Darke County continues to send young people to OSU, fewer are returning home to start their careers.
“I never leave home without my buckeye,” said Greenville platelet donor and OSU fan Joe Van Vickle, as he pulled a buckeye from his pocket. “It’s an Ohio buckeye off our buckeye tree.”
Joe soon received a buckeye bonus from Larry, who awarded him one of the 40 buckeye necklaces he made for donors. “We have so many regulars here,” said Joe. “We can all connect and have a good time.”
Larry presented a buckeye necklace to Greenville donor Twila Blowers to help celebrate her 50th lifetime donation. “Does my hair look OK?” Larry asked Twila as they posed for pictures. “My beautician called off today.” It’s a standard quip for Larry, who is famous for his wild scarlet and gray wig. “It’s fine!” said Twila.
Larry and Tress made special efforts to crown milestone donors with buckeye necklaces. “I’ve been an OSU fan since I was at Mount Vernon College, and that was many, many years ago,” said Michael Dohme as he completed his 200th lifetime donation.
The Tailgate Blood Drive was a chance for many donors to remember their college years, their first jobs, their hopes and dreams as they set out in life.
After donating Tuesday, Greenville donor Jack Alexander is now one donation away from his 200th donation milestone. For Jack, the Tailgate reminded him of first donation.
“My first job out of school was at BF Goodrich Aerospace in Troy,” said Jack. “My boss said, ‘I want to take you to lunch.’ We went somewhere in Troy and I saw all these people lying in beds. I said, ‘What are we doing here?’ He said, ‘If you give blood, you get a meal.’ The ladies had made chicken noodle soup. Every time I give blood, I think about my first boss. That’s how I got started.”