Will Huffman donating

Why has State Representative Stephen Huffman from Miami County introduced legislation to designate January as “Blood Donor Awareness Month” in Ohio?  This conversation will explain.

“I grew up in West Milton and went to Milton-Union High School.  I went to University of Toledo for undergraduate – played football there – and then to medical school at Toledo when it was called the Medical College of Ohio.

My mom and dad gave blood on a regular basis. When I was a resident at ‘St. E’ (now the Medical Center at Elizabeth Place) I saw people that I order to be given blood, how important it was to give blood, and the whole process.

I started donating when I was at St. E.  I found out I was O negative and CMV negative I would come down to the Dayton Community Blood Center and donate on a regular basis, while I was a resident and afterwards.

(Note: Steve is both a “Universal Donor” and a “Baby Donor.” His blood type is O negative, which any patient in need can receive. He’s also a CMV-negative donor, which means he has not been exposed to the cytomegalovirus.  Hospitals prefer CMV-negative blood for units to ensure the safety of blood transfusions to newborns).

My wife Kathryn and I met when we were both undergraduates at Toledo.  She went to law school while I was in medical school and is now a guardian ad litem (a person appointed by the court to represent the best interests of the child in court proceedings) in Miami and Darke Counties.

Our first child (daughter Libby) was born when I was at St. E and was six months old when we went overseas for a year and half to help the underserved with medical needs. It was important to my wife and I.

On Feb. 10, 1998 my son Will and his twin sister Allison were born at Miami Valley Hospital at 28 weeks, 12 weeks premature.  They spent six weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit.  The neonatologist said he would benefit from receiving blood. I made the arrangement for a direct donation.

As a parent, if you could give that to your child, and having been a blood donor for a long time, it wasn’t new to me. They were very good at Miami Valley to let us do that.

My son graduated from Chaminade Julienne High School last year first in his class and a National Merit Scholar.  He was recently named a Fulbright Scholar. Will and Allison are both freshman in the Honors College at Notre Dame. Our daughter Ashely is a sophomore at Notre Dame and our son Jack is a freshman at Chaminade Julienne High School.

The last 10 years have been sporadic donating because of deferrals for overseas travel. My daughter Libby is a senior at Xavier University and for spring break we took her to the Dominican Republic for a medical mission and that put me out for a year. She’s going to be in medical school next year.

I donated double red blood cells on Feb. 20 (Steve’s 55th lifetime blood donation).   For the last nine years we’ve been taking a CJ group to Belize for a service trip. We go to a school and paint, clean, build – whatever they need us to do.  The next trip will be in June.

As a physician I practice emergency medicine (at the Upper Valley Medical Center and Wayne Health). I appreciate what Community Blood Center does for my patients and other people. My son knows what he needed when he was born.  I was happy to be able to donate to him and to others that were in need of my blood.



Sinclair Baseball Team 2017

DAYTON, Ohio – It’s all about consistency for Coach Steve Dintaman and his Tartan Pride Sinclair Community College baseball team.  Every year he strives for another conference championship, another trip to the college world series, and another full-team effort during the annual visit to Community Blood Center.It’s a fall tradition for the team to visit the Dayton CBC. The fall baseball schedule is not as intense as the spring, but it still demands planning to bring the entire team.

The CBC waiting room was suddenly jammed Monday afternoon, Sept. 11 with the boys of summer, all wearing their bright red Sinclair baseball t-shirt, black shorts and trademark red and white ball caps.It was a full roster of about 35 players, with about 30 registering to donate.Steve led Sinclair to its seventh conference championship last spring and his team battled again in the NJCAA College World Series. He notched his 400th coaching victory along the way and was named OCCAC Coach of the Year for the eighth time.

Needless to say, he knows how to give a pep talk.  He put together his own PowerPoint presentation to the team before the CBC visit on the value of blood donations. He then came early to CBC to make his 34th lifetime donation.  The Tartan Pride followed his words and example in big numbers.

“There were about 20 that weren’t sure about donating,” he said, “but after my PowerPoint I think all but about five or six had flipped.”

But Steve was humbled while making the rounds of the Donor Room when he spotted CBC’s top all-time donor Wendell Clark making his 648th lifetime donation.

“I wanted to meet him,” said Steve. “I heard about him and I knew he’s kind of a celebrity and I thought I’ve got to meet this guy.”

Wendell gladly chatted with Steve and a handful of players.  “I remember being here donating, I think last year, when they came to donate,” he said.

Baseball is known as a game of numbers, and Wendell can say the same about his blood donation record. “If you figure each donation is about a pint, and I do some double platelet donations, I think my total comes out to 81 gallons!” he said with a grin.

Inspiration was the name of the game for the young Sinclair players.  “I was on the fence,” admitted first-time donor Tyler Reproegle from Massillon. “I wanted to do it for the first time, and I was of the mind I was going to do it.

“I helped with the blood drives in high school, but couldn’t donate because it was during the football and baseball season. Coach Dintaman talked about it. He knows the precautions to take and made me feel good about it.”

“I was all-in,” said Caleb Peterson, a freshman pitcher from Urbana who made his first lifetime donation. “He didn’t have to twist my arm. He put together a PowerPoint presentation.  He asked, ‘If you’re mom needed blood, would you donate then?’ Of course I would, why not?”

“I said I would do it,” said Casey Demco from Bellbrook. “I can do it, I just said absolutely!”





Sinclair Fire Science students with trophy

DAYTON, Ohio – The uniquely equipped trophy for the Sinclair Community College “Battle of the Badges Blood Drive” has returned home to the Fire Science department.  Donors voted 20-13 for fire technology over law enforcement students at the Tuesday, Sept. 5 rematch.

The trophy was designed by a fire student, but won by the law enforcement students last year by three votes.  The second annual “Battle of the Badges” also kicked off a new school year of Community Blood Center blood drives at Sinclair.

Tuesday’s blood drive totaled 46 students, including 10 first-time donors and 31 donations for 107 percent of the collection goal.

“We really think this is a good partnership,” said Fire Science Technology Director Laura Walker, who was on hand with other representatives from the career community to answer questions about certification and degrees.

“We look at this event as an opportunity for learning more about career options, especially in public safety,” said Laura. “Every donor that voted talked to us about the options and what they would like to do.”

The unique “Battle of the Badges” traveling trophy was designed by Fire Science student Tony Bidlack. It features out-of-service training items, including a fire house nozzle, oxygen tank, body armor vest and a training pistol.

The Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society sponsors Sinclair’s four annual blood drives.  Last year they totaled 148 donors, 41 first-time donors and 122 donations.



Katie Ellis - 500 LTD

Kettering donor Kathleen “Katie” Ellis says “I’m coach emeritus” at Alter High School, where she still coaches the golf team and helps with women’s soccer.  But her title as Community Blood Center’s top female donor is far from honorary.  She added to her “Donor for Life” legacy on Aug. 31 by making her 500th lifetime blood donation.

Katie was on a mission to reach 500 donations before her 70th birthday on Dec. 7.  She beat that deadline three months early with a routine platelet donation. She then headed off to golf practice, after that sold tickets at the women’s soccer game, and finished the day watching the men’s team play.

Katie’s husband Bob is known as the “Wiz” at Alter High, where he has been coaching men’s soccer for 34 years.  Katie coached the men’s reserve team for 16 years and softball for nearly as long.  Bob and Katie will be married 48 years this month.  They have four children and 11 grandchildren, including three sets of twins.  The oldest grandchild is 16 and the youngest nine months.

The Alter golf team practices at Community Golf Course, where Katie volunteers as a starter and ranger, and plays a weekly round with the Community Women’s League.

Coaching, golfing or babysitting is never an excuse to miss donating every two weeks at the Dayton CBC.

“I’ve got the time,” she said. “It’s my way of giving back, to help those who need it. It’s only an hour and a half of the day. Why not do it?”

Her inspiration to give came from her mother. Gwynedd Armstrong was a Welsh girl from Australia who met her husband Frank during World War II.  Katie was one of nine children.

“My mom got me started doing it. She gave blood until she was about 80.”

Katie grew up in Kettering, became a nurse, and was working in pediatrics at Kettering Hospital when she met Bob.  She says it was around 1969 when she began donating with her mom.

“She said, ‘You want to come one time with me?’ and I said yes. I started giving whole blood,” Katie said.  “The apheresis program started (at CBC in 1976). I had a good platelet count and I started giving.”

Regular exercise and lifelong friendship have been keys to Katie’s consistency. “I try to stay healthy,” she said. “I walk every day with friends, for probably 30 some years. We’re called ‘the Street Walkers of Ackerman!’ We went to school together or had kids who went to school together.

“Whatever our troubles, we talk it out. We lost one dear friend to cancer. We miss her every day.”

It’s meaningful for Katie to know her platelet donations have helped cancer patients.  Giving blood gained extra meaning again when her daughter Jenny needed transfusions after the birth of Katie’s latest grandchild.

“I’m committed to this, I’ll just keep giving until I can’t give,” said Katie. “As long as I can do it, I will. I think I would miss it.

“I don’t think I ever thought about giving 500.  “I just did it.”

She also likes her role as CBC’s top female donor. “It feels good,” she said. “The kids will say, ‘My mom’s the leading lady in the region!’ They’re proud of me.”

Katie Ellis with CBC staff


Fairmont High School Blood Drive Award

Fairmont High School wins CBC High School Leadership Grants for ‘Most Donors’ & ‘Red Cord Excellence.’ CBC Donor Relations Manager Tracy Morgan & Account Representative Donna Teuscher presented the awards to Fairmont Head Principal Tyler Alexander, Activities Coordinator Corey Miller, & student volunteers and donors.

KETTERING, Ohio – Community Blood Center honored Fairmont High School in Kettering as the regional champion in student blood drive participation and donor loyalty with the Aug. 30 presentation of two $1,000 High Leadership Grants.

CBC begins the new academic year of high school blood drives by honoring the highest-achieving high schools from the previous year with awards in five categories. Fairmont earned two grants for 2016-2017. It claimed the top category of “Most Donors” and also the “Red Cord Excellence” category for the highest number of graduates who frequently supported blood drives.

Fairmont’s fall and spring blood drives totaled 438 donors, including 179 first-time donors and 332 donations for 100 percent of collection goals.  Rival Wayne High School was the “Most Donors” grant winner from 2015-2016. Wayne finished second to Fairmont in 2016-2017 with 411 donors.

Fairmont also won the Red Cord Excellence grant for the second consecutive year. It goes to the school with the most seniors who qualified for the Red Cord Honor program by registering to donate three times or more during their high school years.  Fairmont’s class of 2017 had 136 Red Cord graduates.

“Fairmont High School is honored to receive not one but two of the High School Leadership grants,” said Fairmont Activities Coordinator and blood drive coordinator Corey Miller. “We take a lot of pride in our blood drives and students are always excited to participate.”

Fairmont will use the awards to support a new in-house food pantry for high school students in need and the Positive Behaviors Interventions and Supports program.  “We will continue to support our PBIS program by purchasing student awards and rewards,” said Corey. “Students are being rewarded throughout the year as they are caught being responsible, respectful, safe, and kind.”

CBC also honored Seton Catholic High School in Richmond for “Highest Percentage of Enrollment,” Horizon Science Academy Dayton for “Second Highest Percentage of Enrollment,” and Troy Christian High School for “Most Improved.”

In the 2016-2017 school year 119 high schools in CBC’s 15-county region hosted 220 blood drives, totaling 14,322 registrations to donate, 6,218 first-time donors and 11,185 blood donations.


Jami Lee, Wilson Health voting

SIDNEY, Ohio – There were many heroes to honor at the second annual Shelby County “Heroes Behind the Badge Blood Drive” but the top honor went to the “home team.”  Wilson Health in Sidney hosted the Tuesday, Aug. 29 blood drive and a surge of support from hospital workers carried the day for the “Healthcare” team.

Sidney and Shelby County police won the inaugural 2016 “Heroes” blood drive, but this year had to settle for a second-place tie with the firefighters.  All who registered to donate could cast a vote for their favorite health and public safety team.  Healthcare got 35 votes, followed by police and fire with 27 each, and Emergency Medical Services with 17.

It was a true win for all hospital patients who depend on Community Blood Center donors.  The “Heroes” blood drive totaled 102 donors, including 12 first-time donors and 85 donations.

One of the donors voting for Healthcare was Wilson Health President and CEO Mark Dooley.

Healthcare donors were especially glad to help out at a time when CBC has been asked to send blood products to Texas donor centers in the Hurricane Harvey disaster area to aid the relief effort.

“I voted for police last time,” said Piqua donor Rosalie Snipes. “All these people are all needed.  But I have a cousin who works in healthcare in Houston, so I’m voting for healthcare.”

“We need them all,” agreed Anna donor Dave Heitman. “I know a lot of Shelby County sheriff’s deputies. I wouldn’t want to be without any of them.”

The voting competition is very transparent during the course of the blood drive. CBC’s Kathy Pleiman sets up the balloting with four clear plastic containers, so donors can gauge the vote count at a glance.

“We did win last year,” said Sidney Police Officer Michael McRill after making his 38th lifetime donation and voting for police. “I don’t know about this year. I just got off duty, and I thought I’d better come out.”

All the teams showed dedication to supporting the “Heroes” blood drive, but none better than Healthcare.  Houston donor Tashaunya Strunk is an emergency room nurse who works the late night shift at Wilson Health.  Instead of sleeping late she came back to Wilson to support the blood drive.

“I just woke up,” said Tashaunya after making her 12th lifetime blood donation. “It wasn’t so bad last night, and I’m off today. I will vote for Wilson for sure!”

Tashaunya Strunk 12 LTD


Thank you vote

BEAVERCREEK, Ohio – The Beavercreek Township firefighters beat the police by 19 votes in the fourth annual “Battle of the Badges Blood Drive” Monday, Aug. 28 at Peace Lutheran Church.  But when it came down to the joy of helping others, one vote proved more valuable than the rest.

An anonymous donor added a simple message to her ballot.  She voted for the firefighters and wrote, “Thank you BFD for saving my son’s life.”

“There were tears involved when we saw this,” said Pat Cochran, who organized the Battle of the Badges with BTFD Auxiliary volunteers and Peace Lutheran Church blood drive coordinator Dan Jessup. She said it was also gratifying to hear donors talk about their blood donations to Community Blood Center being sent to Texas to help with the Hurricane Harvey relief effort.

“We got it back!” said Pat. “This is so worth the effort. Some of the blood collected today will be processed and sent to Texas. What good timing this is. This is the America I know. The one where we have one another’s back.”

The Battle of the Badges totaled 101 donors, including 13 first-time donors and 88 blood donations for 110 percent of the collection goal.  “I’m very pleased,” said Dan Jessup. “More than 100 donors is not a bad day!”

The firefighters revenged last year’s loss by a 52-33 vote count.  After making his donation Monday Chief David Vandenbos predicted the outcome.  “You can quote me, the fire department won!  That’s how confident I am.”

“I do this every year,” said Beavercreek donor Deniece Chin. “Last year I voted for the fire department, so this year I’ll voter for the police. I’m just a happy resident of Beavercreek, so happy they have this.”

“I think about the people (flood victims) in Houston, they’re going to need blood,” said donor Teresa Zubeck. “It’s so easy to do, it doesn’t hurt. We have a great fire department and police department. If I could I’d vote for two of them.”

Chief Vandenbos’ wife Toni is an auxiliary member and also donated Monday. She joined the volunteers in serving chili made by Beavercreek Township Chili Contest winner Jan Shultz to the donors.  Donor Sue Kirby sat beside police and fire supporters at the Donor Café and said, “It’s hard to decide, I’ve got one on either side!”

Beavercreek Police Officer Joel Diaz was able to take time from his patrol schedule to donate.  His vote was one of the last of the day. It wasn’t enough to help the police defend the “Battle of Badges” title, but he had no regrets about the outcome.

“They’re good guys,” he said of his friendly rivals at BTFD. “We go at each other, but at the end of the day we love each other, whether they admit it or not!”

Officer Joel Diaz donating