DAYTON — As a blind orphan boy growing up in the dark nightmare of the Marion County Children’s home, Larry Smith remembers asking God “Why am I even here?” Giving blood to help others became one of the many meaningful answers he has found in his lifetime. On Tuesday, Dec. 8, he called it “a dream come true,” to be inducted into the national Fresenius Kabi Donation Hall of Fame.
The induction ceremony took place at the Dayton Community Blood Center as Larry made an automated donation of double platelets for his 297th lifetime blood donation. “I think this is wonderful,” he said. “Boy, it’s almost unbelievable. Saving lives is something I absolutely want to do.”
CBC’s nomination of Larry for the Hall of Fame included the account of how he braved a winter storm on the day after Christmas in 2012 to make his scheduled blood donation. It was a valuable donation because the storm forced CBC to cancel all mobile blood drives and close all Donor Centers that day.
“The snow storm story stood out to everyone,” said Fresenius Kabi Account Executive Anthony Montemurro. “He told his friends if the center is open I’m going to be there. Your dedication to blood donations is an inspiration to us all and we are very happy to honor you with this award.”
Smith was surrounded by friends, fellow donors and CBC staff members as Montemurro presented him with an etched glass trophy cut in the shape of a blood drop. Larry is among 12 inductees honored in the Donation Hall of Fame 2016 donor calendar. A photo of Larry bundling up to brave the weather after that 2012 donation appears with the month of December.
Larry was born on July 4, 1938. He has been blind since birth, and was abandoned as an infant on the steps of the Children’s Home. His life there was horrible. At the age of eight, in poor health and with failing grades, he questioned if life was worth living. A house mother he calls his “angel” came into his life and gave him the love and support he needed to survive and thrive.
Smith was able to have long career as a Grandview Hospital dark room technician. He ran marathons, competed in a blind bowling league, and sings in his church choir. He’s been a blood donor for 30 years and a platelet and plasma donor for nearly 20 years.
“Today he shines a light on the cause of blood donations. He shines a light on the work we do here at Community Blood Center,” said COO Jodi Minneman. “But most of all, he shines a light on the human spirit. Truly great things can be accomplished by people with will power, inner strength, and compassion. People like Larry Smith.”