ANNA, Ohio – Giving blood is a common bond in Shelby County, where one out of four people you meet on the street is a blood donor. The tradition is often passed down from one generation to the next, turning blood drives into “family reunions.” A good example was the gathering of three generations of the Sanders family Tuesday, May 20 at St. Jacob Lutheran Church in Anna.
It was part of a remarkable day for blood donations across Shelby County, with three separate Community Blood Center (CBC) blood drives that totaled 176 blood donations.
Bernard and Elfrieda Sanders live in Fort Loramie and traveled to their daughter Kathleen’s neighborhood blood drive in Anna. “We usually go to Loramie (St. Michael’s Hall blood drive) and Russia (St. Remy’s blood drive) but it worked out by coming here everybody could be together,” said Elfrieda. “We try to donate six times a year. Not often together, but our granddaughter Kelli was home from college.”
Granddaughter Kelli Ehemann, a 19-year-old Anna High School graduate, is home for the summer after her freshmen year at Ohio State University, where she is a pre-dentistry student. She started donating at age 16, before her high school hosted a student blood drive.
“I donated for the first time at the Moose Lodge in Sidney,” she said. “When I finally turned 16 I wanted to give blood.” She’s wanted to be a dentist even longer. “When I was three years old my sister kicked my two front teeth out,” she said. “After that traumatic experience I’ve pretty much been interested in dental school!”
Kelli has made five lifetime blood donations and her brother Robert, a junior at AHS, already has four lifetime donations. Kelli served on student council and suggested they sponsor the school’s first student blood drive. “She was the reason it happened,” said CBC Shelby County Account Representative Kathy Pleiman. “Kelli was very passionate about it and spearheaded the student blood drive.”
Her inspiration goes back two generations. Kelli and Robert’s grandfather “Bud” Sanders has 133 lifetime blood donations and their grandmother Elfrieda Sanders has 103. Their uncle Kevin Sanders has 110 donations and their uncle Nick Sanders has 63. Kelli’s mom Kathleen Ehemann made her milestone 50th lifetime donation at the St. Jacob blood drive.
“I didn’t know it was 50 today,” Kathleen said. “I’m always glad when I can give, I’m always excited.” A minor disappointment was not being able to donate alongside her mother and daughter. Both Elfrieda and Kelli were deferred from donating on this visit for low iron. “I was just hoping I could give – I’m always the one that has trouble with iron,” said Kathleen. “But I’m glad it worked out.”
The Sanders are just part of Shelby County’s widespread commitment to helping others through blood donations. In 2013 Shelby County donors supported 122 mobile blood drives and donated 6,395 units of life-saving blood products.
Shelby County ranks only 9th in population among the 15 counties in CBC’s service area, yet is third in total number of registered donors. Of those eligible by age to donate, one out of four people in Shelby County are blood donors, the highest percentage among CBC’s 15 counties.
“I usually donate in Sidney,” said Susan Lukey from Botkins. She chatted with Kathleen in the Donor Café after making her 117th lifetime donation. “I donate on the eight-week schedule, so I go wherever the rotation lands.”
They snacked on shredded chicken and ham sandwiches and cookies, courtesy of St. Jacob volunteers. “We have a team here at church,” said blood drive coordinator Jill Brandt. “You volunteer to bake up cookies for anything you sign up for. We’ve got a lot of nice cookies, and they’re all homemade!”
The St. Jacob blood drive wrapped up the day with 68 registrations and 55 donations for 112% of goal. Earlier in the day, the nearby Honda Manufacturing Inc. blood drive registered 115 donors and collected 95 donations for 107% of goal. On the same day in Sidney Emerson Climate Technologies held a blood drive that added 31 registrations and 26 donations for 100% of goal.
It was a day of 175 donations, three generations of donors, and a single county best known as the home for blood donors.
CASSTOWN, Ohio – Hail to the Vikings of Miami East High School for rolling up their sleeves, pulling hard on the long oars, and helping Community Blood Center (CBC) row to shore Friday, May 16 with the final high school blood drive of the year among CBC’s 122 high schools across 15 counties.
Friday’s spring blood drive resulted in 28 registrations, including seven first-time donors and 23 successful donations for 114% of goal. Miami East hosted two blood drives in the 2013-14 school year for a total of 60 registrations and 52 donations. The Vikings contributed to CBC’s year-ending total of 203 high school blood drives with 13,540 registrations and 11,285 blood donations.
Junior Miranda Maggart had the honor of filling the final appointment and making the final donation of a very busy year for CBC high school blood drives. It was her second lifetime blood donation, putting her in good position to qualify for the CBC Red Cord Honor Program with her next registration to donate during her senior year.
“The first time I donated, they called me and told me my blood was used to save a life 30 days after,” she said. “I was happy about it, my parents (who signed her consent to donate when she was 16) were happy. It felt good!”
Miami East’s final drive comes just a week before graduation. For some seniors, it was a final opportunity to register for a third high school career donation and be able to wear the Red Cord at graduation. That wasn’t a worry for seniors Trina Current and Shane Richardson who both made their 4th lifetime donations Friday.
“I got called one year saying my blood got used right away,” said Trina. “I went ‘Oh!’ that made me feel good, so I like donating.” Shane will be studying mechanical engineer at Ohio University next year while Trina will be heading out of state. Trina and her twin sister Ashley were both star players on the Miami East women’s basketball team (Ashley’s jersey number was 32, Trina’s 33) and both earned athletic scholarships to West Virginia State University
The final “buzzer beater” for the Current sisters was seeing if Ashley could be excused from her math test in time to make one last donation. Ashely arrived just before noon, and just in time. It helped that her math teacher is blood drive coordinator Meghan Arnold. “She knows that we want to donate and gives us a chance to go,” said Ashely.
The final blood drive was also a chance for sophomore Autumn Sargent to begin her career as a donor with her first lifetime donation. She turned 16 in April and was inspired by her cousin to get started right away. “My cousin does it a lot,” said Autumn, “and I like to donate and help people.”
Olivia Weldon is just a sophomore, but made her 2nd lifetime donation Friday. “I told myself when I was little, no matter what blood type I am, I’m going to donate,” she said. Olivia turned out to be type O-positive. “Which is kind of funny,” she joked, “because my first name starts with O, but I’m a ‘negative’ person!”
Friendship and loyalty played a big role for students like junior Nolan Wooley, who made his first lifetime donation Friday. “I did it because he told me to,” he said pointing to his friend junior Michael Deeter. “He said he would do it with me!”
Sophomore Alyssa Eakins is only 16, but made her 2nd lifetime donation Friday. Junior Sabrina Kessler also made her 2nd lifetime donation. “Woo-hoo! Last blood drive,” said Sabrina. “We normally donate together.” “If you can call us ‘normal,’” added Alyssa. You can call them normal classmates, good friends, and exceptional life-saving blood donors.
After 33 years as a K-through-3rd grade special education teacher for Dayton Public Schools, Dolores Fritz retired last year and immediately went back to school as a volunteer. Teaching is a challenge and some days are tougher than others. When Dolores needed a pick-me-up after a chaotic day in the classroom, she found an oasis donating at Community Blood Center (CBC). It’s a routine that has served her well and helped save many lives, because on Thursday, May 8 she made her milestone 100th lifetime donation.
“I always tell people there are only two places in the world I can go where people will be nice to me. Because, let’s face it, people are not always nice to you as a teacher,” she said. “Those places are Triple-A (motor club) and the blood bank. You always feel so appreciated. I always say, ‘It’s quiet down there, and they’ll be nice.’”
Dolores became a donor while living in Indianapolis when she went with a friend from church to a blood drive. “I moved to Dayton in ’79 and got started donating here sometime after that,” she recalled.
“I try to come every eight weeks when I can,” she said. Her donation routine hasn’t changed, but she says her body did start to tell her that it was time to slow down her teaching career. “I’m too old to do any more 10-hour days!” she said. “That’s why I retired.” It meant saying goodbye to World of Wonders Elementary School, but she immediately returned to the classroom helping teach 1st-through-3rd graders at Fairview Elementary.
“I said I’d volunteer for the first one that called me – the first one gets me,” she said. “They called and said ‘I need to talk to you!’” It may seem that she never actually retired, but Dolores appreciates her new freedom. “I volunteer Tuesdays and Thursdays and at the end of the school day I can go home! I was at school today, and after school I came to donate.”
After her milestone blood donation Dolores tried on her new “Donor for Life – 100 LTD” jacket, a CBC gift recognizing her achievement. “It’s something I can do that doesn’t cost anything but my time,” she said. “Someone’s life depends on it, and the only cost is an hour of my time.” Many thanks to Dolores for those hours that have always been her pleasure to give, even after those 10-hour work days.
Got a question about ballistic missile systems? Kettering blood donor Kathy Lindahl spent most of her career as a researcher with the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright Patterson Air Force Base knowing how to track down the answer. She overcame lifelong eyesight problems by literally putting her nose to the computer screen. But somehow one number got away. She was surprised to learn Tuesday, May 6 that she was making her milestone 100th lifetime blood donation with Community Blood Center (CBC).
“When I checked in they told me!” she said. “I was very surprised. I just didn’t think about it one way or the other.” She settled in for her platelet donation in the capable care of De’Juan Howard, one of her favorite phlebotomists (“I have touchy veins,” she said. De’Juan knows how to find them”) and thought back on the journey to her milestone.
“I used to donate at the base back in the ‘70’s,” she said. “I didn’t start donating platelets unit about five years ago.” Her routine is to donate platelets about once a month at the downtown Dayton CBC, or whenever she gets a recruitment call.
“I’m beautifully retired!” she said about her schedule. “Ecstatically retired! Busy as all get-out , but retired!” Her new devotion is to the Dayton Philharmonic where she is a volunteer with the education program. She visits schools with orchestra members and makes presentations on “concert etiquette” so young people can better appreciate their first concert.
“My husband and I went to a concert about four years ago and I really liked it,” she said. “I liked it so much he said, ‘You should get involved!’ and I did.” Kathy and her husband Bill met while working together at Wright Patt and will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary in October. He often takes her to CBC because her vision doesn’t allow her to drive. On a day like Tuesday, when he had a conflicting appointment, she takes the bus.
“I’m an albino and my eyes are very sensitive,” she said. Kathy wears glasses with a magnifying lens insert. Even indoors at CBC she’ll keep her dark sunglasses over her glasses to shield her eyes from the overhead lights. “I got my first glasses at 18 months,” she said. “When you’re little, all the type in the books you read is really big. It wasn’t until about sixth grade that I started having trouble with math. I could never see the blackboard. But it was alright.”
It took extra effort to read and do math problems, but she didn’t allow it to be a problem. Instead she embarked on 36-year career as a researcher. She went to work for the Foreign Technology Division at Wright Patt, which had pioneered “Machine Translation” – or computer translation – to keep an eye on the Soviets during the Cold War. MT gave rise to the Systran software for interpreting Russian data. She saw FTD become the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC).
“It was a fascinating place,” she said. “I worked in ballistic missiles. I was an information researcher for mathematicians and engineers, to do any research they wanted.”
Though she is “ecstatically retired,” she is grateful for a career that opened new worlds and never set limitations. “The Air Force was very good to me,” she said. “They had an arm built so that I could move the computer screen close to my face – my nose would be touching the screen. I also had telescope glasses for when I was away from my computer or at training.
“It was a wonderful career, I just loved it,” she said. “I learned so much, every day. I wouldn’t know this much about the internet,” she said holding her finger and thumb and inch apart, “without having done it.”
Sunglasses and ear buds back in place, she finished her platelet donation. Music and books-on-tape (mysteries more than spy novels!) are constant companions for her while donating, running around the track at Kettering Rec, or on the occasional bus ride when it’s time to come downtown again to help save lives.
CENTERVILLE, OH – The annual John P. Kalaman Memorial Blood Drive awakens memories both loving and painful. Monday, April 28 marked the 17th year the blood drive has served as a posthumous birthday celebration for the young Centerville Police officer struck and killed while helping an injured motorist on an icy interstate in 1998. It is a family reunion – for the Kalaman family, the Centerville community, and the law enforcement family – where John never ages and the mission remains the same: saving lives in his name through blood donations.
Since the first memorial blood drive in 1998 (held on Kalaman’s April 27th birthday) nearly 3,900 donations have been made in his honor. Monday’s blood drive added to the legacy with 84 registrations, including 11 first-time donors, and 73 donations for 104% of the collection goal.
John’s parents John and Paula Kalaman have served every year as blood drive coordinators. Paula got the idea on a visit to Community Blood Center (CBC) while John, Sr. was donating. The first drive was held where she worked at Bethany Lutheran Village (now Graceworks Lutheran Services). The turn-out was overwhelming. “We didn’t have enough beds to handle the crowd and a lot of people had to leave because they couldn’t wait,” recalled John. “The next year we handled the crowd a lot better.”
After 10 years it moved to the spacious training room at the Centerville Police Department. Traditions continue, including the birthday cake with the Centerville Police Department badge in icing. The Kalamans spend the entire day on their feet, chatting with old friends and family, meeting new donors, serving cake and cookies. The 17th blood drive was both familiar and new:
9 a.m. – John Kalaman is always among the first to donate. Tuesday marked his 148th lifetime donation. The drive is busy as Centerville officers on the day shift arrive early. “I donate every eight weeks,” said Sgt. Jim Shanesy. “I’m like Jim,” said Capt. Mark Casey. “I give every eight weeks, but we have to plan it to be eligible for this one every year.”
10 a.m. – Sgt. Mike Yoder donates after the first wave of donors. “I came in early,” he said. “I have court today and my shift start at 4 p.m. I always try to donate here to remember John Kalaman, support the Kalaman family, and give blood.” “I might have missed a few times,” says Detective Dan Osterfeld, “but I try to make it every year I can.”
“I’ve got my red Kalaman Golf Tournament shirt on and my pin from the Police Officers Memorial, “says regular Kalman blood drive donor John Yensel, an 11-year community volunteer with the Centerville Police Department.
11 a.m. – The first TV cameraman arrives. John and Paula decide that Paula will do the first interview. “We think of this as a birthday celebration for John” she tells WDTN-TV. “It brings the community together and we meet new people every year.”
Centerville Officer Tony Beran was on vacation but came to donate. “I do remember,” he said of John’s death. “I was working for Miamisburg Police. Later we came over and worked for the funeral.”
12 p.m. – The lunch time crowd fills the donor beds. “This is my first time donating at the blood drive,” says Greg Kooyman, a member of the Blue Knights, a motorcycle club with many retired law officers as members. “John talked to our group and handed out flyers.”
“I’ve donated almost every single year,” says Huber Height Police officer Aaron Harlow. “I was actually working for Centerville Police at the time of John’s death. I try hard not to miss it.”
“I would donate at community blood drives,” said donor Brian Mace. “Once I became aware it was for John Kalaman I try to donate every year.”
1 p.m. – Paula’s sister Suzanne Perry and her family from the West Chester area begin arriving to donate. They often come by motorcycle, but the morning’s heavy rainfall called for a change in plans. “They hug everybody that comes in to donate, not just family!” says Suzanne as she donates. Her son Michael makes a double-red blood cell donation. He was 10 years old when his cousin John was killed. “I have not missed since I turned 17,” he said. “I remember the first time I was the youngest and the oldest donor was 92 and he had just finished when I started.”
Michael’s dad Larry arrives for his double-red blood cell donation, his 27th lifetime donation in John’s honor. “I started donating right after John died,” he said. “We donate every time up here and sometimes at the CBC West Chester branch. We will continue to support this because it’s a great cause.”
JoAnn Daniel and Doug Gaudette from the Kettering Police Department drove together to the blood drive. JoAnn makes her first lifetime donation, and admits to being recruited by Doug. “I worked here for the Centerville Police for six years,” Doug said. “I was at the Police Academy in Columbus when it happened.”
2 p.m. – A cameraman from WHIO-TV arrives and the donor beds are still full. He takes video of donors Joe Daniel and Kathy Welde. It’s John’s turn to handle the interview. “This is one way to remember John and honor his sacrifice to his community,” he says. “Paula says in this way he has touched more lives than if he had lived, and he is still touching mine.”
Joe and Kathy wait for John to finish so they can say hello. Kathy’s son Jesse, a Down syndrome child, took Taekwondo martial arts classes with John, Sr. “John worked with him quite a bit,” she said. “They were sparring partners.”
John remembers Jesse well. The original plan was for father and son Kalaman to take the class together. “I had been interested in martial arts for many years,” he said. “The plan was for John to test for his first belt and I would begin and he would always be one belt ahead. When John was killed that kind of blew that dream out.” A year and a half later, John decided to take the classes on his own. He didn’t stop until he was breaking boards and concrete block to earn his third-degree black belt.
3 p.m. – Sgt. Kurt Althouse from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department makes his 15th lifetime donation in John’s honor. Three months before John’s death they went through forensic training together at the Miami Valley Regional Crime Lab to become evidence technicians. Kurt was working for Jefferson Township Police when he learned during roll call that a Centerville officer had been killed in an accident. “They didn’t tell us who it was,” he said. He went to Centerville to find out. “When they said it was John… I couldn’t do anything for the rest of the day.”
4 p.m. – WKEF/WRGT-TV arrives and John Kalaman gives his final interview. “The Centerville area has not forgotten,” he said. “Some of those who came in here may not have known John, but it gives them an opportunity to donate and that’s a good thing. It’s gratifying to be part of a community reaching out to help others.”
5 p.m. – Planning begins for the 18th annual John P. Kalaman Memorial Blood Drive, April 27, 2015.
Beavercreek blood donor Judy LaMusga has been donating platelets for so long she can describe the significance of every click and whir in the automated process and can pinpoint every time the machine draws the components she is donating and returns what she is not. Yet she broke routine at her Friday, April 25 appointment by forgetting her scarlet Ohio State feet-warmer socks. Maybe it was because this was her milestone 400th lifetime blood donation with Community Blood Center (CBC).
“For me, it’s one more donation,” she said, dismissing any notion of nervousness. “The fact that it adds up to a big number doesn’t mean a thing to me. It’s only about another donation that goes to help people.”
That doesn’t mean she isn’t keeping track. Judy is well aware that even with her milestone, she still ranks second behind CBC’s top female donor Katie Ellis. “She can’t catch me,” laughed Katie after making her 422nd lifetime donation on Tuesday, April 22. Judy also took a ribbing from Bert Jones, CBC’s 2nd rank male donor, who made his 521st donation Friday. “I guess you think you’re a hero now!” kidded Bert. “Not compared to you!” Judy humbly replied.
Judy’s plan is to simply stay the course, keep Father Time at bay with her active and healthy lifestyle, and remain dedicated to her 24 donations-per-year schedule. Though she did forget her socks, her routine is usually unflappable, especially when it comes to warding off the chill of the returning fluids and neutralizing the taste of the sodium citrate anticoagulant.
A heating pad waits in her donation bed, already set to “high.” She uses three blankets (plus her socks). A box of Tums (not a generic brand) is always waiting. “They put out a bunch,” she said. “I eat eight or 10 to start with, and about 10 minutes before the end I do another six to eight.” She is also allowed to sip water.
“Before, when apheresis was upstairs (at CBC), I would bring milk and cookies,” she said. “When we came down here (the main floor donor room) I couldn’t do milk anymore. Pam (phlebotomist Pam Wentworth) and I worked out how many Tums to take.”
Judy has been donating apheresis since the early 80’s, and her advocacy efforts have helped recruit countless number of other donors. “I probably started donating apheresis about eight years before the Life Leaders program came in,” she recalled. “I started building Life Leaders teams. One of mine was called ‘Not in Vein.’ There was the “Bloodbusters.’ They all had clever names.”
She majored in education at Ohio State and still goes to four Buckeye football games a year. She earned a Masters in Administration at Wright State University and retired from 35 years of public service, including management roles with the Montgomery County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. She then went back to school to earn her law degree at the University of Dayton and has her own practice. An important meeting with clients and attorneys was waiting for her when she finished her Friday donation.
There’s always room in her schedule for CBC. She was the focus of a Wright State video project on apheresis when she reached her 375 LTD milestone, and she prepared her “sausage soup” recipe on live TV to help promote the CBC donor cookbook.
Her focus lately has been serving on a state committee to rewrite Ohio’s Advance Directive guidelines. She advocates for end-of-life planning by participating with fellow professionals in seminars called, “Talking about Death Won’t Kill You.” “We want the message to be, “Leave a legacy of love,’” she said.
She also believes in tough love. She and her husband Denny are finishing a new home, and said she fired off a two-page letter Friday morning to the developer arguing why she should be allowed to grow her beloved Buckeye trees in her front yard.
“I’m a lawyer!” she said. After the final beeps from the machine, Friday’s verdict was in. “Yay! We did our 400th donation! It’s done,” she said. “I’m real. I’ve actually done it.” Judy made the rounds thanking and hugging the collections staff, old friends who have seen her through many of her 400 donations.
Lately she has been dedicating her donations to her brother-in-law, who needed several platelet transfusions for treatment of brain bleeds. “He told a priest who came to visit him that his life is so blessed,” she said, blinking back tears. Many patients can say the same, thanks to donors like Judy LaMusga.