June 25, 2018

EATON, Ohio - Since organizing the first Vincent Jones Memorial Blood Drive in 2016, Mindy Jones has seen her late husband's legacy grow in two ways: The increasing "ripple effect" from life-saving blood donations and another birthday for their youngest son Jeremiah.

Vincent lost his battle with leukemia just 13 days after Jeremiah was born. Mindy gives credit to blood donors for helping Vincent live long enough to meet his son.  Jeremiah is now an active two-year old, who squirmed out of the arms of family members to race around the Eaton First Church of God gym with his bother Gabriel during the Saturday morning, June 23 blood drive.

"For the boys this is about their daddy's legacy," said Mindy. "This is how they see the community and family coming together to support saving lives in honor of their daddy, in his memory and that ripple effect of paying forward."

The blood drive theme is "Vincent Strong" and support grew stronger with 83 registered donors, a 23 percent increase over last year. The number of donations jumped to 77, a 42 percent increase, and there were 11 first-time donors.

Vincent's younger brother Craig Jones, an Eaton Police officer, made his 15th lifetime donation Saturday. Craig began donating when Vincent was in the hospital and became an apheresis donor after learning his rare AB blood type is ideal for platelet and plasma donations, products commonly used for leukemia patients.

"We know how much blood he was receiving," Craig said, "and I wanted to help replenish the blood products he needed."

"The leukemia Vincent passed away from is the same my father died from 25 years ago," said family friend Missy Duffie. "He was 42 years old, very young also, so this is near and dear."

Eaton donor Bruce Combs made his 80th lifetime donation Saturday. He lost his son three years ago and now helps babysit his two grandchildren. "I'm glad (Vincent) got to see his baby," said Bruce. "But it is still sad."

Robin Cole, a nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital, donated with her husband Marty. "I was there when Vincent was at Good Sam and I knew how sick he was," said Robin. "He was such a great guy, so young. I can't talk about it without crying."

Several teen donors supported the blood drive, including Elizabeth Melton, a senior at National Trail High School who made her sixth lifetime donation.  Devin Crumbaker from Twin Valley High School made his fifth lifetime donation and Cade Carter from Eaton High School made his second.

"My mom explained to me how he was in trouble and blood transfusions kept him alive to see his baby boy born," said Cade. "You don't need a cape to be a hero."

Family and friends wore orange "Vincent Strong" t-shirts and wrist bands, the color for leukemia awareness.   IHOP sponsored a pancake and sausage breakfast in the Donor CafĂ©.   Mindy and family tried to personally thank each donor and welcomed them to write a message in the "Memory Book."

"He could always put a smile on somebody's face," April Mackie as she wrote her entry. "He was always happy." 

"Even people who didn't meet their daddy, their lives were changed because of his story and because of our story," said Mindy. 

"My goal is always for it to grow, and I think we did that. We're always growing and touching more and more lives and Vincent's legacy continues on."