Roger Bender with friends

SIDNEY, Ohio – Fort Loramie donor Roger Bender had a lot to be thankful for during Thanksgiving week.  It started with the success of the Shelby County OSU Alumni Association teaming up with the Farm Bureau Women’s Committee on the Nov. 21 “Buckeye Blood Drive” and ended with Ohio State winning “The Game” against Michigan.  Along the way Roger made his milestone 300th lifetime blood donation.

Roger reached his milestone by donating platelets and plasma at the Buckeye Blood Drive. He was one of 11 apheresis donors and 146 whole blood donors.  It was his 22nd donation of the year.  He is a regular apheresis donor at blood drives in Fort Loramie, Russia, Sidney and Greenville, including the Darke County OSU Alumni Club Tailgate Blood Drive.

“I look at this way, if I’m healthy enough to give, than I’m a lucky man,” said Roger. “I’ve known many people who needed blood, some who had cancer.  I had been donating about 10 years when my dad had heart surgery and needed five units.”

Looking back on his “Donor for Life” journey Roger said his first “25 gallons,” the equivalent of 200 units, were whole blood donations.   He began donating platelets and plasma exclusively in 2013.  “I switched pretty much to apheresis when I retired and I had more time,” he said.

“I didn’t know that until it happened,” he said about scheduling his 300th donation for the day of his pet project, the Buckeye Blood Drive.

Alumni Association volunteers decorated the American Legion Post in scarlet and grey and piled Ohio State gifts under a Buckeye mini-Christmas tree to give away as door prizes.  Special guests “OSU Buckeyeman” superfan Larry Lokai and Coach Jim Tressel look-a-like Dennis “Tress” Singleton greeted donors with buckeye necklaces and posed for Facebook photos, including one with Roger as he donated.

“My goal was originally to get it this year, by the time I’m 65, and I was 65 in May, so I reached that,” he said.  “Now I’ll set my goal for 400 by age 70!”



Dennis Singleton - Jim Tressel

SIDNEY, Ohio – “OSU Buckeyeman” Larry Lokai likes to say “We’re Buckeye brothers from different mothers!” when he poses for pictures with fellow Ohio State football fans.  It would be the perfect line for “Jim-Poster” Dennis Singleton to borrow if he ever meets the real Coach Jim Tressel.

Larry is a celebrity superfan from Urbana, seen often at nationally-televised Buckeye games in his trademark red face paint, wild scarlet-and-gray wig, and massive mane of Buckeye necklaces.

Dennis is a mild mannered superfan from Huber Heights, who remains mild mannered when he dons wire glasses and sweater vest to become the “Tress Look-A-Like” twin of the former Buckeye coach.

Larry and Dennis stopped at the Nov. 21 Shelby County OSU Alumni Association “Buckeye Blood Drive” to greet and pose for Facebook pictures with donors and volunteers.  They were in the middle of a flurry of Michigan Week appearances, including the 42nd annual “Great Debate” with the Detroit OSU and MU Alumni Clubs that evening in Livonia, Michigan.

“For years people would say I looked like him,” Dennis said about taking on his Jim Tressel alter ego.  “One year my wife got me a sweater vest for Christmas, and it was like magic.”

He started wearing the vest to Wayne High School football games in 2007, and the double takes began. “Braxton Miller was playing and people’s eyes just popped out,” said Dennis.

Dennis’ wife Cathy was inspired to make a video with Dennis as “Tress” and enter it in the Fox Sports “Biggest College Football Fan” competition.   The magic continued as they won an expense-paid trip to New Orleans to see the Tressel-coached Buckeyes play for the 2008 BCS National Championship.

“That’s when I ran into Larry. He saw me hanging around outside the Superdome,” said Dennis, and a true Buckeye brotherhood was born.  He soon teamed up with Larry and Tipp City’s Roger Thomas, an uncanny mirror-image of legendary Buckeye Coach Woody Hayes.  They mugged for the TV cameras in the ‘Shoe (where ESPN dubbed Dennis “Jim-Poster”) and entertained crowds at OSU alumni gatherings.

They had a good run together. Roger passed away in 2014.  “It was the three of us,” said Dennis.  “I really enjoyed doing things with him. He was a look-a-like. He WAS Woody.  I don’t see it with me.”

The Tressel era at OSU ended abruptly in 2011 after an NCAA investigation into rules violations. Dennis enjoyed a long career in sales with Pepsi-Cola in Dayton and Springfield and noted, “I retired the same time Tressel retired.”

Dennis continues to make appearances with Larry, who praises him for his “rapid fire” delivery of historical details about “The Game” as he entertains the Buckeye faithful.

“I always tell alumni groups that I feel like Clark Kent putting on the cape when I put the vest on. It was magic!” said Dennis. “I wish I knew more back then what I know now. I would have got into it a lot sooner.”

Helen Ward with Tress, Buckeyeman


MidPointe - donor Mary Nicley

WEST CHESTER, Ohio – Community comes first on Thanksgiving eve at MidPointe Library West Chester. Wednesday, Nov. 22 mark the two-year anniversary of Community Blood Center’s monthly blood drive partnership at MidPointe.  For the third consecutive Thanksgiving eve blood donors put aside holiday plans to give in the name of community.

The Community Room at MidPointe has been the home of the monthly blood drive since Thanksgiving Eve 2015. MidPointe faithfully hosts the blood drive on the fourth Wednesday of every month, always from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

If the first year of blood drives MidPointe was a best seller, than the second year was a chart-topping sequel.  The 12 blood drives since last November totaled 696 donors and 611 donations, a five and a half percent increase over the first year.

The monthly average improved to 58 donors and 51 donations per blood drive, averaging more than 107 percent of goal and qualifying for CBC’s top honor, the Platinum LifeSaving Ambassadors Club award.

“It’s nice to see it not only successful, but growing,” said MidPointe Librarian Martha Matthews, who serves as the blood drive coordinator.  “It’s been beneficial to all, and the community wins. We have donors who didn’t know about the library, and we have library users who see the signs for the blood drive, walk-in and donate.”

MidPointe’s considers the blood drive in keeping with its goal to be a community center. Since taking on the monthly blood drive MidPointe has added U.S. passport application service, expanded educational programs that include microscopes and lab equipment, and expanded reading outreach programs to area daycares.

Last month CBC began using apheresis machines at the blood drive to answer an ongoing need for plasma donations.   Ted Blair from Liberty Township gave plasma for his 103rd lifetime donation. “I remembering donating for the first time in Hamilton when a friend of mine’s daughter had open-heart surgery,” he said.  “I come every eight weeks.”

“We’re going to my daughter’s home in Newport, Kentucky for Thanksgiving,” said Ken Beiser from Liberty Township, who gave plasma for his 86th lifetime donation. “I love getting the calls saying they used your blood to help someone,” he said. “It doesn’t happen every time, but it’s always great to get that call.”

“I love this library. I come here often,” said Fairfield Township donor Mary Nicley. “It’s nice. I’m over here all the time anyway. It’s easy and convenient.”

Outside the library, traffic was swelling with holiday travelers and last-minute shoppers. Mary’s family will be heading to Indianapolis for Thanksgiving, but taking the time to donate was a priority.

“It’s not that big a deal,” she said. “I got all my errands done early because I had this. I’ve had friends with cancer who needed blood.  I learned a lot. It’s good to give back if you can.”

Plasma donor Ted Blair


Helen Ward with Tress, Buckeyeman

SIDNEY, Ohio – Those Wolverines “up north” better watch out.  Teamwork makes the Buckeyes the favorite in “The Game” Saturday, and teamwork between the Shelby County Ohio State Alumni Association and the Farm Bureau Women’s Committee made their Tuesday, Nov. 21 “Buckeye Blood Drive” a big success.

The American Legion Post served as “the ‘Shoe” for the blood drive.  Scarlet and grey were the colors of the day with volunteers in bright red OSU t-shirts and donors with the grey Community Blood Center “Buckeye Blood Donor” t-shirts.  OSU gifts were piled under a Buckeye mini-Christmas tree and “Carmen Ohio” played on the boom box.

And to make sure everyone caught the team spirit, “OSU Buckeyeman” superfan Larry Lokai and former OSU Coach Jim Tressel look-a-like Dennis “Tress” Singleton roamed the hall handing out Buckeye necklaces and posing for Facebook photos.

The Alumni Association volunteered with the blood drive last year and teamed up as co-sponsor this year. The Women’s Committee served up hot sandwiches and homemade cookies in the Donor Café while the OSU alumni provided Buckeye door prizes and kids’ activities.

“We were looking for a blood drive to get involved in,” said Alumni Association member Roger Bender, who made his milestone 300th lifetime donation at the blood drive. “They’re (the Women’s Committee) wonderful. I’m friends with those ladies and they’re good people.”

Bender said the Alumni Association focused on spreading the word and reaching more donors.  With their help last year’s blood drive grew by more than 40 donors, and CBC’s Kathy Pleiman added more appointments to this year’s schedule.  The result was 146 donors and 128 donations.

“I’m very happy,” said Sylvia Lehmkuhl who coordinates all the refreshments provided by the Women’s Committee. “We’ve had such a good turn-out!”

“Buckeyeman” Larry from Urbana and “Tress” look-a-like Dennis from Huber Heights stopped in Sidney on the way to a flurry of Michigan Week events, including the 42nd annual “Great Debate” with the Detroit OSU and Michigan Alumni Clubs that evening in Livonia, Michigan.

An alumni association member thanked Larry with a gift of six thousand Shelby County-grown buckeyes to help him make more necklaces.  “She said, I’ve got a five-gallon bucket, and I said that’s not going to work,” said Larry. “I said I’ve got a gunny sack.”

Dennis enjoyed the double-takes from donors who recognized the Jim Tressel wire glasses and signature sweater vest. It reminded him of first visiting Wayne High football games in 2007.

“Braxton Miller was playing and people’s eyes would just pop out,” said Dennis. “I always tell alumni groups that I feel like Clark Kent putting on the cape when I put the vest on. It was magic!”

Roger Bender deserved a Superman cape for helping organize the OSU Alumni Association effort, and for his milestone 300th donation.

“I look at this way, if I’m healthy enough to give, than I’m a lucky man,” said Roger. “I’ve known many people who needed blood. Now I’ll set my goal for 400!”

Buckeyeman Larry Lokai, Barb Locker


Miamisburg High Unity Blood Drive


MIAMISBURG, Ohio – The season of giving is off to a very strong start at Miamisburg High School.  Students gave blood Friday, Nov. 17 at the fourth annual “Unity in the Community Blood Drive” and announced continued support for Care House, the school’s favorite charity, as recipient of the $1,000 Unity award.

“Unity in the Community” is a partnership between Miamisburg and West Carrollton High Schools, Community Blood Center, and Universal 1 Credit Union.  Universal 1 awards $500 to each high school for holding fall blood drives. The schools combine the awards and take turns designating a charity to receive the $1,000 gift.

This year the Miamisburg Student Government continued the now four-year tradition of supporting Care House of Dayton community advocacy center for victims of abuse and neglect.  They will present the $1,000 award to Care House at the Dec. 8 Miamisburg vs. West Carrollton basketball game.

“We visit Care House and that’s been a part of it,” said Student Government advisor and blood drive coordinator Jenny Brockert. “They’re really interested in it because of the work we’ve done fundraising for it.  It really ties it all together for the younger students when they go to the basketball game and see the check presentation.  The next year they are connected with it.”

“I’ve been there three times now,” said Senior Class President Mackenzie Frantz, who volunteered with fellow Student Government members at Friday’s Unity Blood Drive, checking in students and serving refreshments in the Donor Café. “It looks like a giant playhouse. For the little kids going through tough times, it’s much more comfortable than a police station. It’s very welcoming.”

The students gave strong support to the Unity Blood Drive, totaling 159 donors, including 106 first-time donors and 124 donations for 106 percent of the collection goal.  West Carrollton High School will complete the Unity Campaign with a campus blood drive on Dec. 1.

Seniors like Morgan Espelage have been part of the Unity Campaign all through all four years of high school. “I like doing it and helping out,” she said after making her fourth lifetime blood donation.

Sophomore Darin Gridley made his first lifetime donation Friday.  The Unity Campaign is new to Darin but it fits with his decision to donate. “I felt like doing something nice for other people,” he said.

Morgan Espeleage


Ohio Donor Month Testimony

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Community Blood Center gave testimony before the Ohio Senate Health, Human Services and Medicaid Committee Tuesday, Nov. 14 in support of proposed legislation to designate January as “Blood Donor Awareness Month” in Ohio.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Stephen Huffman of Miami County, chairman of the House Health Committee, emergency room physician, and life-long blood donor. Sen. Matt Huffman from District 12 is the Senate sponsor.

CBC Donor Relations Director Andrew Keelor, Ohio Association of Blood Banks board member Dr. Elizabeth Biller, and Botkins blood donor Susan Leugers all testified before the Senate Health, Human Services and Medicaid Committee Tuesday as proponents of the bill.

“We really don’t realize how many lives are saved when people donate blood,” commented committee member Sen. Peggy Lehner of District 6, Montgomery County.

The bill has received bipartisan support. CBC testified in support of the bill at the Sept. 13 House Health Committee hearing chaired by Rep. Huffman where it passed by a 19-0 vote.  The House approved the bill 93-0 on Sept. 20.

”As a regular blood donor, I was proud to sponsor this legislation and it is my hope that it will increase awareness about the importance of giving blood, and encourage more donations across the state,” said Rep. Huffman, who has made 55 lifetime donations with Community Blood Center.

Susan Leugers, who has 136 lifetime blood donations, organized a Botkins blood drive in honor of her daughter Chelsea who died of cancer in 2010 at the age of 22.

“The third annual Chelsea Lukey Memorial Blood Drive will be the day after New Year’s 2018,” Susan said in her testimony. “With your support, the blood drive in Chelsea’s honor could be the first blood drive of January Blood Donor Awareness Month.”

The bill now moves to opponent testimony prior to a committee vote.




Mike Dohme with Larry

GREENVILLE, Ohio – The Darke County OSU Alumni Club was on a roll Tuesday, Nov. 14 at the 24th annual Tailgate Blood Drive. Donors rolled up their sleeves, volunteers rolled out chocolate Buckeye treats, and superfan “OSU Buckeyeman” Larry Lokai rolled into town with Buckeye necklaces and his special brand of fun.

“We’re going to learn a lot this time around,” said Alumni Club President Bill Barga, who stepped in as blood drive coordinator in place of long-time coordinator Jan Boyer who passed away in August. “But we have lots of volunteers, lots of door prizes, and lots of treats, including lots of good Buckeyes!”

Donors filled the beds in the Greenville Church of the Brethren for the Tailgate Blood Drive, totaling 126 whole blood donors and 107 donations, plus 11 platelet and plasma donors.

Greenville’s Fred Roll was the first apheresis donor of the day, donating platelets for his 247th lifetime donation. “I don’t really follow sports,” he said about the Tailgate theme. “But I rub shoulders with plenty of people who do, so I hear everything I want to hear about Ohio State!”

Almost near enough to rub shoulders with Fred was Greenville donor Mike Dohme.  He wore a scarlet OSU shirt to make his 191st lifetime donation. “I always support the Buckeyes,” said Mike. “I come every year for this.”

When Mike sat down for a chocolate Buckeye in the Donor Café he was soon shaking hands with “Buckeyeman” Larry Lokai, who crowned him with a necklace of Buckeye nuts and snapped pictures together for Facebook.

“How do you overcome being shy?” Larry quizzed Mike.  He replied, “You’ve got to talk to people, and always smile.”  Larry nodded his wild wig-covered head in approval.

Smiles came easy for Buckeye fans at the blood drive, thanks to Saturday’s blow-out win over Michigan State that helped the erase the pain of the prior week’s stunning loss to Iowa.  Larry was at both games, riding the wave of emotion.

When Ohio State plays Michigan on Nov. 23 it will mark the 20th anniversary of the first game Larry donned the wig, OSU jersey and face paint to become “Buckeyeman.”

This anniversary season has been a wave of emotion for a guy whose job is to keep everyone upbeat.  Fans felt sick about the loss to Oklahoma, but Larry was literally sick with a stomach bug. He left at halftime and spent the next four days in bed.

“I missed two games this year,” said Larry. “My dad passed away at 103 and my sister with Down syndrome at 63. They passed away within two weeks of each other.”

Larry got back in the game, but he had to make some changes. The weight of eight Buckeye necklaces (for OSU’s eight national titles) and 114 Buckeye nuts (for the number of games against Michigan) was too much for his neck.

“I’ve cut it back to 42 Buckeyes for the year I was born,” he said, “and four necklaces for all four of my children that went to Ohio State.”  For the record, Larry was the first in his family to graduate from OSU in 1967.  His granddaughter graduating in December will be the 23rd.

Larry refuses to cut-back on his superfan schedule, especially with Michigan Week coming up.

“The key thing is I try to do as many activities as I can with area OSU alumni clubs,” he said. “I belong to four clubs (including the Darke County club) and four societies, and I do as much as I can with them. If they’re in, oh, about 100-mile driving range I try to come.”

That includes squeezing in a stop at the Nov. 21 Farm Bureau Women’s Committee blood drive in Sidney, co-sponsored this year for the first time by the Shelby Co. OSU Alumni Association.

OSU Alumni Kirsten Harmon, Cathy Baker