BOTKINS — Community Blood Center begins the New Year in Botkins. The eighth annual Chelsea Lukey Memorial Blood Drive on Jan. 2 again honored a daughter lost to cancer. It was one of the first blood drives of January Blood Donor Awareness Month, and the “Give Blood, Give Love” theme was a perfect fit.
Botkins donor Susan Leugers began the blood drive in 2016 as a tribute to her daughter Chelsea who died of pancreatic cancer in 2010 at age 22. It was soon rescheduled to early January to help Community Blood Center with the challenges of replenishing the holiday blood supply and the true arrival of winter.
This year, the blood drive totaled 89 donors, including five platelet and plasma donors and five first time donors.
Leugers’ strength is recruiting donors for her daughter’s blood drive. At the 2018 blood drive she was inducted into the National Donation Hall of Fame. Also in 2018, she gave testimony in Columbus for the bill designating January as Ohio Blood Donor Awareness Month.
She recruited her nephew Eric Leugers from Anna, who made a double red blood cell donation Tuesday.
“If that’s all it takes to help someone is a little needle stick, I’ll do it,” said Eric.
Susan’s Hall of Fame award stands next to photos of Lukey welcoming donors to the blood drive. Susan uses a grant from the non-profit Thrivent Action Team to fund hot sandwiches and special cookies in the Donor Café.
“The money from Thrivent helps and having use of The Palazzo is great,” said Susan.
She began a Shelby County Relay for Life team when Lukey was battling cancer.
“She loved going to them,” Susan said. “The Relay and the blood drive have merged together now.”
Her friends Judy Seitz and Diane Meyer are loyal blood drive volunteers and supportive friends.
“She’s the best neighbor ever,” said Meyer, who remembers answering Susan’s call for help, then feeling helpless the night Lukey died.
Late in the blood drive more family members arrived, including her grandchildren. Susan then took time to make her 157th lifetime donation, always in memory of Chelsea.
“They’re doing it for Chelsea,” she said of the many donors, including friend Christy Metzger in the adjacent donor bed. “Lots of people told me today, they donate once a year at Chelsea’s. That’s good enough for me! That warms my heart, because I know they are sensitive.”