GREENVILLE — Voting came with donating on Election Day for Buckeye fans at the 29th annual Darke County OSU Alumni Club Tailgate Blood Drive. For a moment it seemed like ESPN Game Day at the Horseshoe when Superfans “Buckeyeman” and “Tress” gathered around donor Ivan Patterson.
Ivan is 95 years old and was making his 567th lifetime donation. Superfans Larry Lokai and Denny Singleton were special guests at the blood drive, and they wanted Ivan to know he was the spitting image of venerable Game Day host Lee Corso.
Ivan didn’t recall Corso, but he recognized Larry in his trademark red face paint and wild scarlet-and-gray wig. “Do you ever wash your face?” he asked. “Once a month!” Larry replied.
The Nov. 8 visit to Greenville Church of the Brethren for the blood drive was first by the Superfans since 2019. It totaled 111 donors, including 99 whole blood donors and 12 platelet and plasma donors.
OSU Alumni Club President Bill Barga was busy volunteering at the polls on election day, but he relied on volunteer Brenda Reichard to roll traditional peanut butter and chocolate buckeyes, serve tailgate snacks in the Donor Café, and sign-up donors for Buckeye door prizes.
“Bill says the club is still together and still giving scholarships,” said Brenda.
Bill encouraged Taylor Dill, an OSU agronomy graduate, and Extension Services colleague, to help with the blood drive. Dill made her first lifetime donation. “I figured while I’m here, I might as well,” she said.
OSU and ag science are in the blood of Buckeyeman Larry Lokai. He was the first in his family to graduate from OSU in 1967 and generations have followed. He taught agriculture at Northwestern High in Springfield for decades, and next year will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the “Buckeyeman” character that has made him recognizable nationwide.
He commonly spent 60 days a year as Buckeyeman, including all through Michigan week. That changed with the pandemic. Personal appearances ended and he stopped going to games. He returned to judging state fair poultry competitions last summer and came down with COVID. He finally returned to the Shoe for the third game of the season.
“I had to go back and look at my pictures… how did I do my makeup?” said Larry. “It took me two or three games to get it right! My first game back in 30 months, it was, ‘Oh. This is what it’s like again!’”
“It’s good to be back at alumni events and seeing old friends,” said Denny “Tress” Singleton.
“I’m glad I made it today for the Buckeyes,” said Greenville’s Patrick Klosterman after making his 140th lifetime donation. “I try to give as much as I can. I did see the Buckeyeman today. I was going to ask him if he brought Brutus with him!”
Brutus was in the form of a big inflatable, bobbing a welcome to the Tailgate Blood Drive donors. Buckeyeman and Tress will be on the road again, meeting donors at the Shelby Co. OSU Alumni Blood Drive Nov. 15 in Sidney.
Blood donation requirements: Donors are required to provide a photo ID that includes their full name. Past CBC donors are also asked to bring their CBC donor ID card. Donors must be at least 17 years of age (16 years old with parental consent: form available at www.givingblood.org or at the Dayton CBC and mobile blood drive locations), weigh a minimum of 110 pounds (you may have to weigh more depending on your height), and be in good physical health. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) changes blood donor eligibility guidelines periodically. Individuals with eligibility questions can email [email protected] or call (937) 461-3220. Make an appointment at www.DonorTime.com.
Community Blood Center/Community Tissue Services® is an independent, not-for-profit organization. Community Blood Center provides blood products to partner hospitals and health centers within its 15-county service area of western Ohio and eastern Indiana and to select hospitals and blood centers outside the region. For more information visit www.givingblood.org.