FORT LORAMIE — The “Country Fun Blood Drive” at St. Michael’s Hall is always a “save-the-date” community event in Fort Loramie with the popular door prize of free Country Concert tickets. But the Tuesday, June 16, blood drive was also a special celebration of St. Michael’s cornerstone role in winning national recognition for Shelby County blood donors.
Kathy Pleiman, Shelby County account representative for Community Blood Center (CBC), went to Washington, D.C. in March to accept the America’s Blood Centers Award of Excellence for Most Productive Blood Drive on behalf of the Shelby County donor community. She presented the etched glass trophy to the Shelby County Commissioners in May, and the trophy is now on a “victory tour” of Shelby County blood drives before returning to a permanent home at the courthouse. Tuesday was the first chance to show the award to St. Michael’s donors.
“People are generous. They want to help. That’s the way we roll around here,” said Jane Poeppelman, who serves as volunteer coordinator of all three annual blood drives at St. Michael’s Hall. At Tuesday’s blood drive the Award of Excellence had a place of honor among the hay bales, cowboy boots and 10-gallon hats decorating the hall lobby.
St. Michael’s Hall is the county’s largest community blood drive and is so successful CBC could have nominated it alone for the Most Productive Blood Drive award. Tuesday’s blood drive had 309 donors and 300 donations, plus 11 platelet donations and including 10 first-time donors for 120 percent of the collection goal, totals very close to the St. Michael’s record of 335 donations in February of 2009.
St. Michael’s is the cornerstone in the rotation of carefully scheduled blood drives that maximize collections across the county. Though Shelby ranks only ninth in population among CBC counties it is third in registered donors. Out of those eligible to give blood, one out of four are blood donors.
“I’m not surprised, but it is surprising to think of it that way,” said donor Robin Ratermann, who said the rotation schedule made it easy for her to donate in Houston, Sidney and Fort Loramie. Donors socialized in the Donor Café where they enjoyed the traditional ham salad sandwiches, cookies and ice cream.
“We are a giving community,” said Gail Siegel, who made her 24th lifetime donation Tuesday.
Pleiman chatted with Mark Hoying from Fort Loramie who was making his 87th lifetime donation, but his first as an apheresis donor.
“I told Kathy wherever she needs me the most, that’s fine with me,” he said.
Darian Rose echoed the same spirit of support while making her milestone fifth lifetime donation. She started donating Fort Loramie High School blood drives and just finished her freshman year at Ohio Dominican.
“Everybody loves Kathy!” she said.
Commissioners Bob Guillozet and Tony Bornhorst both spent the day busy with county business before hurrying to St. Michael’s where Guillozet made his 177th lifetime donation and Bornhorst his 93rd. They chatted about a visiting PBS TV crew from Boston, taping a report on the Shelby County Sheriff’s safety program to guard against school shootings. Bornhorst smiled while talking about how the reporters had to watch their step during their tour of his farm. But they were proud to see more national attention coming to Shelby County,
“The communities come together,” said Guillozet. “Fort Loramie is a small town, but it gets county-wide support.”
“No doubt it’s really become a tradition,” said Jane Poeppelman. “Young people are becoming involved, every age group. It’s known as a blood donor community. People are proud in the fact that they are saving lives.”
Community Blood Center/Community Tissue Services is an independent, not-for-profit organization. Community Blood Center provides blood products to 24 hospitals within a 15-county service area in the Miami (Ohio) and Whitewater (Indiana) Valleys. For more information about Community Blood Center/Community Tissue Services, visit www.givingblood.org.