ANSONIA — Blood donors braved a blistering heat wave but minimal worries about a pandemic June 15 at the Ansonia High gym. It was a good sign that life was back to normal for the 13th annual “Grudge Match Blood Drive” between the rival FFA clubs at Ansonia and Mississinawa Valley High Schools.
The Grudge Match rivalry continued all through COVID-19 with the mission of boosting the blood supply when high schools are on summer break. The FFA club with the most donor votes gets bragging rights and possession of the Grudge Match trophy through the school year.
Host MVHS claimed the trophy for the second year in a row, but it was close. The donor vote favored MVHS 15 to 14. The series is now tied at 6-6-1.
The schools were equal winners in the blood drive’s success, topping 100 percent of collection goal for Community Blood Center with 33 donors, 28 donations and three first-time donors.
MVHS FFA member Aron Hunt was a sophomore when he made his first lifetime donation at the 2021 Grudge Match. He returned this year as FFA club vice president and made his fourth lifetime donation.
“I like helping people out,” said Aron. “I always want to beat Ansonia! Seems like more people are doing it this year hopefully.”
“It’s a nice little friendly rivalry between both schools,” said MVHS FFA club student advisor Sierra Grim who made her fifth lifetime donation.
“Right now, it’s not looking too good,” said Ansonia senior Madison Warner after casting her vote for her school and eyeing the slightly higher pile of ballots in the MVHS bowl.
“I’ve got grandchildren in both of them,” said donor Fonda Newbauer, who cast her vote for Mississinawa. “I think I voted for Ansonia last year, so I’ve got to be fair!”
Ansonia FFA club volunteers Avalyn Locke and Ben Barnt spent time at the blood drive working on the FFA float for the July 4th parade. The theme is “Ansonia is the Future of Agriculture,” and the message holds true for blood donations.
“My brother has always donated blood and it’s kind of a big deal in my family,” said Avalyn. “I thought I would help out with it too.”
“A lot of the kids want to get their Red Cord,” said MVHS assistant FFA advisor and co-blood drive coordinator Gwen Bergman. Students must register to donate three times in high school to earn Red Cord honors and the Grudge Match is an added opportunity.
“Students want to donate, and if they’re not old enough yet, I can tell they’re hoping to be blood donors,” said MVHS FFA advisor and co-blood drive coordinator Carmen Hartzell, who likes to set an example by donating at the Grudge Match.
“We have blood drives during the school year, they donate for the Red Cord, and that establishes something really good here. If they donate in high school, maybe they’ll continue to donate.”
MVHS junior Paytyn Hiestand made her third donation and encouraged her mom Sarah to make her first. “She’s like, ‘I’ve got to go donate blood today,’” said Sarah. “’Want to come with me?’”
Ansonia FFA advisor Emily Williams was pleased with the community support. “We’ve been on schedule for two years,” she said. “We’ve been post-COVID more than most.”
Emily and FFA co-advisor Aaron Scammahorn look forward to a normal summer of helping students complete their FFA projects and prepare for the Great Darke County Fair, Aug. 19 to 27.
“I like having a friendly rivalry in Ansonia that’s between the communities,” said Aaron, “and if during the summer we can get 30 to 40 people to donate, I think that’s great.”
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.