DAYTON, Ohio – It’s not easy being Larry Smith. He was born blind on the Fourth of July and abandoned on the steps of a state orphanage. He survived a cruel childhood to become a model citizen and a Hall of Fame blood donor. On June 19 he achieved his milestone 400 lifetime donation, and as always, made it look easy.
“I feel wonderful. I just feel so good about this,” said Larry as he reached his milestone with a combined platelet and plasma donation. “I just want to keep on going. I want to keep donating and keep trying to help people.”
Larry has been a donor for decades, and a platelet donor since 2004. In 2015 he was inducted into the Fresenius Kabi Donation Hall of Fame.
CBC nominated Larry with the story of how he braved a winter storm on the day after Christmas 2012 so he could make his scheduled blood donation. It was an important donation because the storm cancelled all blood drives that day and closed the Dayton CBC moments after Larry donated.
Larry remembers the darkest days of his childhood when he was malnourished and had lost the will to live. But he was rescued and nurtured by the kindness of a new house mother and a reform movement at the home. His health improved and he made his way in the world as a Dayton hospital darkroom worker, marathon runner, choir singer, and blood donor.
Larry donates twice a month at the Dayton CBC, and he has not allowed the threat of COVID-19 to interrupt his schedule. He will turn 82 on July 4th, so he now avoids taking the bus as a precaution. His friend, fellow marathoner and fellow donor Steve Wirick drives him to CBC and on June 19 made his 220th lifetime donation.
It’s not easy reaching 400 donations, and even Larry admits, it’s not easy being Larry Smith.
“No, it isn’t,” Larry said. “But I’m going to tell you something. I had people behind me, and the greatest thing of all the Good Lord above. He made it possible. All I can do is thank Him for all the good days I’ve had. Even the bad times can make you strong. When you look back on it you can go either way, you an be bitter or you can take advantage of it and use it to somehow help other people.”
He never complains and he considers himself fortunate.
“There are worst things,” he said. “I think about people who have got so much worse off. When you think about it, I really got it made. I’ve got things to be thankful for, I can say I feel blessed, and because of that it makes you want to be able to find a way to help other people and this is one way I can do it.”
So how does it feel to be milestone donor Larry Smith?
“Really great. Way back when, I wasn’t sure I was going to get this far. I can hope, I can see it, but back then it was way in the distance. I thought too many things can happen in between times, something could happen that you could no longer donate. You think of these possibilities and you know it could be a possibility. Turned out I was able to get where I’m at. 400. Wow!”