SIDNEY — Buckeye fans had an extra bounce in their step as they entered the Sidney American Legion Post on “Giving Tuesday,” Nov. 27. They were greeted with “O-H” and answered “I-O” as they signed in to donate at the OSU Alumni Club of Shelby County and Farm Bureau Women’s Committee “Buckeye Blood Drive.”
It was the second year of co-sponsoring the blood drive and two groups go together like the Scarlet and Gray. Last year, the blood drive took place during rival week before the Ohio State-Michigan game. This year came after “The Game” and Buckeye fans could bask in the glory of a surprisingly dominant win that catapulted them into Saturday’s Big 10 Championship.
“This is perfect,” said alumni club volunteer Paula Coder. “We won and everybody is upbeat. After the big win on Saturday, it’s something to celebrate, that’s for sure.”
It also boosted enthusiasm to have two well-known Buckeyes boosters visiting the blood drive for the second year. Super fan “OSU Buckeyeman” Larry Lokai gave away homemade buckeye necklaces as door prizes and Coach Jim Tressel look-alike Dennis “Tress” Singleton schooled donors on Buckeye football history.
“Tress” met his match in Buckeye lore when trading stories with donor and alumni club volunteer Brooks Ware. Ware was 13 years old when he traveled with his family from Sidney to Columbus for the 1950 OSU-Michigan game, known as the infamous “Snow Bowl.”
“We left at the end of the third quarter,” recalled Ware. “It was snowing so hard you couldn’t see anything. We didn’t get home until Monday morning. We got within 15 miles and stopped in the middle of the road, stuck in the snow. We walked to a farm house. They took us in and another family and we stayed there two nights. We got home Monday and school was out the whole next week.”
Lokai first appeared in his alter ego of “Buckeyeman” at the 1998 OSU-Michigan game. It would shock most to know that the energetic super fan is age 76. “I started my 21st year,” he said. “It’s not like I’m getting old!” He made a sign for the TV cameras boldly predicting an Ohio State win.
“I believe you have to have confidence,” said Lokai. “With Urban Meyer, if you make him an underdog, you’re in trouble.”
In the Donor Cafe donors talked more about the food than the game. The women’s committee served chicken salad sandwiches, homemade cookies, and of course chocolate-covered Buckeyes.
“I love them,” said Sidney donor Carolyn Miller. “I like anything with peanut butter.”
“For us, collaborating with the Farm Bureau women works,” said alumni club member and blood drive coordinator Roger Bender. “They’re not going to be able to do it that much longer.”
The alumni club also faces the challenge of recruiting new members.
“I enjoy this,” said President Tina Hottle. “I wish we had more people to help. It might be that we partner with someone else.”
“It’s been a very positive thing for the club,” said club secretary Helen Ward. “This location gets a lot of people out.”
It wasn’t the “Snow Bowl” but donors braved below-freezing temperatures and snow showers to support the blood drive. It totaled 133 donors, including 119 whole blood donations and 10 platelet and plasma donations.