SIDNEY — 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 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, Bender made his milestone 300th lifetime blood donation.
Bender 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 Bender. “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, Bender 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 Bender 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!”