Fairmont-Alter Unity Award

Unity in Community Award: Alter High CURE Club President Jesse Haeker & Alter blood drive coordinator Jeanne Kernan; Fairmont United Student Body President Cayla Teeters; Universal 1 Credit Union’s Mary Cook & Dan Gouge; Camp Kesem counselors Veronica Romo & Arrianna Rucker; Fairmont volunteers Drew Gleason & Mariah Brooks; Fairmont blood drive coordinator Corey Miller.

KETTERING, Ohio – It may have been a cold night for the Jan. 23 Fairmont vs. Alter basketball game at Trent Arena, but the “Unity in the Community” award presentation at halftime kindled warm thoughts about summer camp and helping others.

The Firebirds and Knights celebrated their third year of joining forces for the Unity campaign.  Each school hosts a Community Blood Center blood drive in the fall.  They jointly present a $1,000 award from Universal 1 Credit Union to a charity chosen by the home team at the Alter-Fairmont basketball game.

Fairmont’s Nov. 3 blood drive and Alter’s Nov. 7 blood drive totaled 268 donors, including 131 first-time donors and 217 blood donations.

As this year’s host school in the Unity campaign, Fairmont chose Camp Kesem at The University of Cincinnati to be the $1,000 Unity award recipient.  Camp Kesem is a summer camp and peer support program for children with family members fighting cancer.

Many Fairmont graduates have worked at the camp, including counselors Veronica Romo and Arrianna Rucker who accepted the Unity award on behalf of Camp Kesem.

“The kids go to the camp for free,” said Veronica. “This will help with expenses, meals and activities. We also provide care packages to kids if a family member passes away to let them know we care and that we support them.”

“It’s year-round support,” said Arrianna. “We want them to know they have another family.”

Fairmont began the school year as CBC’s regional champion in blood drive participation.  Activities Director and blood drive coordinator Corey Miller was pleased to see continued support for the fall blood drive and the Unity campaign.

“It’s great because it’s high school kids continuing the service in college they started in high school,” Corey said. “We have a lot of kids giving back.”

Last year Alter chose “Brigid’s Path” as the Unity Award recipient.  It opened in the fall of 2017 and is now providing inpatient care for babies suffering from prenatal drug exposure.

Fairmont-Alter basketball



Aliya Stine - Be The Red T-shirt

Newton High School graduate Aliya Stine did more than win a $1,000 Community Blood Center/Vectren Lead The Way Creative Scholarship with her 2017 “Be The Red” campaign.  She inspired the t-shirt design high school donors will wear this spring semester at all CBC high blood drives.

Aliya’s “Be The Red” theme combines patriotism and unity with the common bond of blood donations.  The new high school t-shirt features her drawing of a waving American flag with three red stripes and the others white and grey, and her slogan, “Without You There’s Only White and Blue – Be The Red.”

“I’m so excited for everyone donating to be able to receive this shirt,” said Aliya, now a freshman at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. Her former classmates at Newton High School will receive the t-shirt when they register to donate at their Feb. 15 blood drive.

“It will be awesome to see people wearing it and being able to see it come to life. I hope people are inspired to not only donate blood, but they are inspired to put themselves out there and apply for this scholarship.”

The 2018 Lead The Way deadline is April 20.  Applicants must create a blood drive marketing campaign with a slogan and a graphic design or other marketing techniques, and explain why it would encourage fellow students to donate.

In her Lead The Way application Aliya said she chose a patriotic theme because of political unrest in the country. She hoped to encourage others to put differences aside and work together for a common good.

“The political aspect of the design is still a hot topic so I hope it will inspire people to talk about politics and share their opinions,” she said. “To everyone donating, thank you for your donation and for helping someone in need.”

Aliya is from Troy.  She is majoring in biology with the goal of becoming a physician’s assistant.

The $5,000 Lead The Way Creative Scholarship program is supported by a grant from Vectren.  CBC and Vectren annually award $1,000 in college tuition assistance to five graduating, college-bound seniors whose high school hosts a CBC blood drive.

Applications must be postmarked by April 20. Examples of winning campaigns and the 2018 scholarship application are available at http://www.GivingBlood.org.  For more information contact Cristina Pickle at BloodEducation@GivingBlood.org.


Al Whitney with CBC Amanda Wilson

Community Blood Center is on a mission in 2018 to recruit more platelet and plasma donors, and there may no greater champion of the cause than “Platelets Across America” founder Al Whitney.

Al roamed the country in his RV from 2007 to 2012, donating platelets in every state.  The Cleveland native first visited CBC in 2008 during his “Platelets Across America” tour. He’s back on the road for a second round, and included a return trip to the Dayton CBC.

On his Jan. 5 visit to CBC he made his 874th lifetime blood donation. His total is a combination of 834 platelet donations and 40 whole blood donations. He’s now halfway through his second round of donating in every state.

“I kept calling blood centers and going again,” he said. “I didn’t set a goal. But about six months ago I thought I could do a second time. I already had a bunch done and decided I would continue. Now I’m at 25.”

At age 80, the tour is more than a bucket list itinerary. “It’s not just me going around giving platelets,” said Al. “It’s me convincing people to be blood donors.”

Many of CBC’s most dedicated platelet and plasma donors are of Al’s generation. About 53 percent of the CBC donor base is over the age of 50.  The blood components of platelets and plasma are essential clotting mechanisms for the human body and can only come from volunteer donors through the process of apheresis.  They are vital for the treatment of cancer patients and emergency room patients.

Enlisting blood donors is Al’s calling. He coordinated weekly blood drives for 15 years in his hometown of Avon Lake.  He donated the equivalent of five gallons of whole blood before becoming an apheresis donor. “I do platelets because I can give 24 times a year,” said Al.

He’s seen the technology change and has become a student of the procedure. He travels with meticulously kept records of his donations, including platelet counts and eligibility status.  Less experienced phlebotomists might find themselves getting tutoring tips from Al throughout the donation.

“I don’t walk in and say, ‘Here I am, wonderful me,’” said Al. “I call, introduce myself, let them know about me. The door is open.”

His last out-of-state donation was in St. Louis on Dec. 28. He’ll wait until spring before adding Washington to his second “Platelets Across America” tour.  Across the miles from blood bank to bank, he has a simple explanation for what keeps him going:

“Somebody that’s in the hospital that needs blood,” said Al. “Walk through a cancer ward and you’ll see what I mean.”


Russell Belue - OSU afghan winnerMiamisburg donor Russell Belue is an Ohio State fan who finished the 2017 season on a roll. He celebrated a Buckeye victory in the Cotton Bowl by winning the drawing for Fran Duell’s classic handcrafted “OSU Afghan.”

Russell claimed his prize when he stopped by the Dayton Community Blood Center Jan. 17 for his 46th lifetime blood donation.

“I’m a huge Buckeye fan,” said Russell. “I said hey – an afghan blanket!  I saw it and it looked really cool.”

Russell is a regular platelet donor.  He entered the drawing for the afghan on Dec. 21 with his ninth donation of the year.  He started donating at Miamisburg High School in 2001 and made his first platelet and plasma donation in 2007.

The drawing for the OSU Afghan began during Michigan Week and continued through the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29.  It was impressive run for the Buckeyes who thumped their rivals, beat Wisconsin in the Big 10 Championship game, then dominated the University of Southern California in the Cotton Bowl.  “It was an amazing win,” said Russell. “It was fun to watch.”

Russell’s loyalty to the Buckeyes began at a young age when he got to watch them up close in “The Shoe.”

“Back when I was 11 I was in the Boys Scouts,” he said. “OSU had a program where Scouts could go up and help people find their seats and watch the game for free. My troop was really interested and I got to watch two or three games a year in the Horseshoe.  There’s nothing like it!


Tony Lehman 100 LTD jackeet

Centerville donor Tony Lehman is in it for the long haul.  He’s a marathon runner who wants to complete a 26.2 miler in every state.  He’s also a “Donor for Life” who crossed the finish line of his 100th lifetime blood donation Jan. 16 at the Dayton Community Blood Center.

Tony tries to average four whole blood donations a year. He made five donations in 2017 and reached his milestone with his first donation of 2018.  He had the satisfied looked of a runner making a victory lap.

“It means that I’ve been able to contribute something to society,” Tony said. “It’s something I can do, and it’s being used for some good. Not everyone can, but I’m able to.”

For the record, Tony now has 100 donations with CBC.  “My original donation was in ’93 when I lived in Fort Wayne,” he said.  “My actual total is 118.  I started donating with CBC in ’98 when I moved to Centerville.”

Tony works in commercial real estate and takes advantage of a flexible schedule to keep his consistent donation schedule.  He’s motivated because he knows his blood type is O positive, the universal donor type for all Rh positive patients.

Staying healthy has been a big part of reaching 100 donations, and he must balance his donations with his training and racing.  “I don’t donate when I’m getting ready to run a marathon,” he said. “I’m trying to run a marathon in every state and I have 18 to go! My last one was in November in Philadelphia, and my plan is to run one in Salt Lake City on April 21.”

But first he will take time to celebrate. “I’m thinking of a big steak dinner tonight!” he said. Tony and his wife Toni have three daughters, and the oldest is also a blood donor.

He’s quick to acknowledge the cuteness of being part of a “Tony and Toni” couple. “All our emails start with ‘TNT’ for Tony ‘n Toni,” he said. “We’re dynamite, baby!”


Donna Agee


DAYTON, Ohio – Through every hardship, Donna Agee and her daughter Dawn had each other. Donna was a single mom whose only child was born with cystic fibrosis. The fragile little girl was not expected to see kindergarten. She lived to graduate high school, but no more.  It was only natural that a daughter’s dying wish became their bond of blood.

“When she was born, she was having problems but we didn’t know what it was until two weeks before she was a year old,” said Donna. “They told us she probably wouldn’t live past the age of five or six.  They didn’t know that much about CF at that time. They’ve come a long way.”

Dawn came a long way.  As she grew with the disease, Donna made sure every birthday party was a full celebration because of the uncertainty of how many more might come.

“The summer before her high school graduation at Chaminade-Julienne, that’s when they take their senior pictures, and she looked great,” said Donna. “But as the school year went on she was pale and thin and got sicker and sicker.”

Dawn was frail when she graduated with her classmates.  “She was in the hospital a lot the last couple of years, and I couldn’t be there a lot because I had to work,” said Donna. “She started having fevers and losing weight. I think she got tired, to be honest.”

“I apologized to her the night before she died. I said I wanted to feel like I did everything possible for you,” said Donna. “She had IV’s, a feeding tube and oxygen going in here and she said, ‘I just want all this off of me and taken back up to my room.’”

Dawn’s doctors wanted her to receive a blood transfusion. But she made an unexpected request. “They said Donna, she wants a blood transfusion but doesn’t want anybody’s blood but yours,” Donna said.  “I talked to her and convinced her to get the transfusion and promised I would go give blood the next day, so it would be there in case she needed it.”

“Having that blood really helped her. She became chipper, sat on the bed with me and planned her funeral with me. That night she passed away. I watch her take her last breath. The next day I went and donated blood and I continue to donate because of her.  That’s how I became a blood donor.”

Donna is also an organ donor because of Dawn.  “She wanted to donate her organs but she was so full of infection, they couldn’t use anything,” said Donna. “But her beautiful blue eyes went to the University of Florida to be used for research into diabetic blindness. They told us she was able to help a lot of people.”

“She was very giving person as young as she was, to her friends,” said Donna.

Dawn lives in Donna’s in heart. She remains the little girl blowing out birthday candles, the teen in a prom dress on the verge of womanhood, her companion through whatever would come.  “She never learned to drive,” said Donna. “She always wanted me to drive her. We were good together.”


Debora Kremer Smith 100 LTD

GREENVILLE, Ohio – The life-sustaining cycle of giving and receiving blood is well known in the North Star’s Kremer family. A legacy of hemophilia across three generations has been a challenge and an inspiration.  It gave Debora Kremer Smith a particular sense of pride when she made her milestone 100th lifetime blood donation Jan. 9 at the Greater Greenville Ministerial Association blood drive.

Debora’s parents Carl and Carolyn Kremer raised a family of four on their dairy farm in North Star.  Debora’s brothers Dan and Kevin are both hemophiliacs.   A generation later, Debora’s sons Paul and Dean, ages 18 and 14, are hemophiliacs as well.

Dan and Kevin grew up in time when the clotting disorder was not well understood and treatments were still developing. It meant many journeys to Dayton in the dark of night for emergency care during bleeding incidents.

But it was also an opportunity for the community to learn about hemophilia and respond to the family by supporting blood drives.  At age 80, Carolyn has 118 lifetime donations and wants to keep donating. Debora followed her mom’s example as a donor, and became a nurse.

“I went to the Miami Valley School of Nursing, and those three years in school I was very consistent donating,” said Debora. She worked at Mercer Hospital in Coldwater and gave birth to her daughter Carla.  The challenge of raising two hemophiliac sons gave her a better understanding of what her mother faced.

“It was much easier than for my mother, but you still fear the big injury,” said Debora. “Boys are boys.”

Paul and Dean were able to play CYO basketball and fell in love with swimming, with coaching from their dad.

It’s sobering to know that the Kremer family can never completely ignore the heritage of hemophilia.  The disorder is a recessive trait passed on through the females. Dan’s daughter recently gave birth to a son, and he is a hemophiliac.

A generational change in the treatment is the wide use of factor concentrates that don’t have to come from human plasma donations.  “My boys’ treatment has been a protein that is artificial,” said Debora. “They don’t have to have the protein from plasma anymore.  My brothers would have blood donated for them.”

That circle of giving and receiving that made their community especially interconnected. For Debora, it’s a connection grown only stronger over the Donor for Life journey of 100 donations.