FORT LORAMIE — Two Fort Loramie traditions, both rich in history and community pride, crossed paths once again at the June 19 St. Michael’s Hall “Country Fun Blood Drive.”
St. Michael’s Hall upheld its reputation as Shelby County’s largest blood drive by totaling 305 donors, 286 whole blood donations and 11 platelet and plasma donations. It also continued the tradition of giving away a pair of reserved seat tickets to the July 5 through 7 “Country Concert ’18.”
Fort Loramie donor Roger Bender didn’t hesitate when asked how long he has been coming to St. Michael’s Hall blood drives. “Decades,” he said. “Many, many times.”
Donor Carla Siegel has similar memories about the Country Concert. “It’s crazy how big the Country Concert has grown in the last 30 years,” she said. “I remember when I was in high school and it was a very small atmosphere.”
The event that started as a wedding anniversary party in 1981 is now one of the nation’s largest country music headliner events in the summer festival scene.
St. Michael’s Hall is by far the leader in Shelby County blood collections. The three 2017 blood drives topped 850 donors and won CBC’s top award for achieving collection goals. It sets a high bar in Shelby County where one out of four people eligible to give are blood donors.
Roger Bender joined with Jane Poeppelman to co-coordinate the “Country Fun Blood Drive” and also made his 314th lifetime donation by giving platelets.
“There’s a lot of community pride and it’s a little competitive,” said Roger. “Fort Loramie is pretty competitive and always wants to look good compared to other communities, and this is one of those things where we can show we care about other people.”
Roger used the example of the Fort Loramie High School baseball team’s Division IV State Championship June 2 in Columbus. “The town’s got 1,500 people in it, and we had 2,000 at the state tournament,” he said.
“It really is a tight-knit community,” said donor Kevin Musser. “It’s sort of expected; you participate and jump into things. People like it, they love to volunteer.”
“We all have people that we know that are sick or need help,” said Carla. “This is a way to help our fellow community members, that’s why I do it.
”There’s nothing better than coming home from a sad day at work and there’s a message on your phone saying your blood was used to save a life. It’s a way to be a little bit of a hero in our own little world.”