November 10, 2021

GREENVILLE, Ohio - The first snowflakes of November sometimes fall when the Darke Co. OSU Alumni Club hosts its "Tailgate Blood Drive." A year ago, it was the sky falling as COVID-19 spoiled much of the traditional fun. But the Buckeyes made a comeback Nov. 9 by celebrating the 28th annual Tailgate Blood Drive with 122 donors.

A big blow-up Brutus greeted donors at the Greenville Church of the Brethren. Hand-rolled chocolate and peanut butter Buckeyes were back in the Donor Café, plus all sorts of OSU gear door prizes. Although "OSU Buckeyeman" Larry Lokai could not make an appearance this year he sent a pile of his specialty buckeye necklaces to bestow on donors.

Buckeye boosters and casual fans combined to help the blood drive reach 96 percent of collection goal with 111 whole blood donors and 11 platelet and plasma donors.

Through the ups and downs of COVID the Scarlett and Gray remained true. Despite the pandemic, the number of donors fell only 5% at the 2020 blood drive and rose this year by 12% to complete the comeback.

"It's a lot better, we're getting back to normal," said OSU Alumni Club President Bill Barga. "It's very positive. It actually hurt when you just couldn't do anything last year."

Bill again praised his club's volunteers and repeated his wish to see a younger generation of OSU alumni join the club. "It's pretty sluggish on that side," he said. "The young people seem to be too busy."

The blood supply faces a similar challenge with an ageing donor population. But a young generation of donors was represented well by recent Greenville Senior High graduate Zane Mancillas who made his third lifetime donation Tuesday and was rewarded with a Buckeye necklace.

"I almost got recruited at Ohio State," said Zane, who excelled in wrestling at GSHS and follows the Buckeyes. He's inspired to donate because of a family member in need.

"My sister's husband, he needs blood every week," he said. "I want to donate every time I can because I know that people out there need it."

"I do it for my grandpa," said Stacey Penkal who made her 15th lifetime donation. "He used to do it all the time. When he passed, he had given over five gallons! That makes me want to donate more often."

Without "Buckeyeman" Larry available, Bill Barga did the honors of presenting Stacey with a buckeye necklace.

"My husband is going to be jealous," she said. "He's a big Buckeye fan!"

Arcanum's Kevin Rismiller was pleased when new CBC Darke Co. account representative Donna Kueterman "crowned" him with a buckeye necklace as he made his 92nd lifetime donation, but he admitted he's not a big football fan.

That's not the case with Greenville donor Wayne Marker, who got his buckeye necklace from Bill. He knows the next big test for Ohio State in a very challenging season comes up this weekend at the Shoe, and he hopes the necklace will work like a charm.

"I hope it brings me luck this Saturday against the Purdue Boilermakers!" he said.