Adair E. Andrew
American Red Cross
Asheville, North Carolina
Hitting new milestones of caring
Adair E. Andrew, a retired high school teacher from St. Louis, Missouri, is proof that when you put your mind to something, you can do it.
Adair sets impressive goals for every activity he takes on—hiking, biking, walking, even reading. At 44, he decided to walk 44 miles to celebrate his birthday, and he did the same thing, adding a mile each year, for a decade. When he turned 55, he changed things up, joining his brother on a 965-mile cycling trip.
Since he and his wife, Marti, moved to Asheville, North Carolina, Adair has put this same dedication towards donating platelets. He is frequently found in the donor chair, keeping up with his reading—and hitting new milestones, Adair was most recently recognized for having donated more than 700 times.
But he hasn’t stopped there. Taking his optimism on the road, Adair became a volunteer driver. When his center needed someone to be interviewed by the local news station to get others excited about donation, he was the first to step up. With every new challenge, Adair reminds us all just how much we can do to help those in need in our communities.
Dexter Emoto, RN
LifeStream Blood Bank
San Bernardino, California
A nurse who goes the distance
Dexter Emoto is a blood donation marathon man – a long-distance runner and registered nurse who knows that anything worthwhile takes effort, enthusiasm, and endurance.
Dexter specializes in post-anesthesia care and recovery at Loma Linda University Health, where he sees first-hand the need for blood. It’s his job to give patients transfusions. While many days are routine, he’s also called to serve during crises like the 2015 San Bernardino terrorist attack, which left 14 people dead and 22 seriously injured.
His patients remember his expertise, wit, and compassion. What they don’t know is that he is also a dedicated donor. For more than 40 years, Dexter has regularly donated blood and plans to continue, he says, for “as long as I am healthy and fit to do so.”
In 2018, Dexter began organizing and recruiting for blood drives on the Loma Linda campus. The drives are now a fixture of his center’s calendar.
Whether it’s the patients he’s helped or the donors he’s inspired to carry on his legacy of service, Dexter Emoto’s influence will be felt for many years to come.
Community Blood Center
Never giving up on a chance to save lives
Theodore Hale is 19 years old—a college sophomore—and he’s already banked 30 donations towards his lifetime goal of 1,000.
Whether it’s donating a gallon of blood, cycling 100 miles—or, as he did for 10 years, compete in the Ohio Special Olympics—Theo sets the bar high and says that success is about never giving up. “If you don’t persevere you won’t get anywhere,” he says. “Life is full of failures. You take them and learn from them.”
Theo was inspired to donate platelets by his mentor Glenn Stoops, a longtime donor. The two biked to the blood center to donate the day before Theo graduated from Fairmont High School. They were celebrating his many honors—summa cum laude and National Honor Society; the faculty award for academics, leadership and service; and being voted “Mr. Fairmont” by his classmates.
Getting to that first donation, though, wasn’t easy. Theo wanted to donate as soon as he turned 16, but he was turned away. “I kept getting deferred. Weight, blood pressure, I think it was 10 times,” he says. But, just like with schoolwork, Theo never gave up on his chance to save lives.
Peter R. Hall
American Red Cross
Josephson Blood Donor Center
A generous soul and a bright spirit
Peter Hall has spent much of his life supporting his community and church. He’s a retired teacher who worked in public schools for 30 years, first in Dayton, Ohio, and then in Mobile, Alabama. Peter is a 17-year parishioner of St. Pius X Catholic Church and a member of its St. Vincent DePaul society, which provides food services to those in need. He’s also a member of the Knights of Columbus, another faith-based service organization. Peter also volunteers with the Ronald McDonald House and serves meals to their clients.
Since 1986, Peter has also donated blood. For more than three decades, he was always ready to give a pint in the hope it would help someone regain their health. So, three years ago, when asked if he would like to try making a platelet donation, he was more than happy to spend the extra time providing this lifesaving gift. Since then, he’s become a dedicated platelet donor, and has given more than 233 units. For those who know him well, it’s no surprise. Peter is a generous soul and bright spirit who can always be counted on in times of need.
Sarah Hansgate, Jillian Truesdale, and Dawn Wolf
Williamsville, New York
Giving blood gave them friendship
Every other Saturday morning they arrive at the center at the same time. Three ladies who have bonded over their shared commitment to saving lives through donation.
Sarah Hansgate, Jillian Truesdale, and Dawn Wolf had each been donating platelets for several years. Though they’re all about the same age, live in the area, and in some way or another crossed path’s before, it was in the hours they were seated next to each other that their commonalities blossomed into deep friendship.
Today these donor buddies can be found lined up in a row, laughing the time away as they share the latest stories of their daily lives—and the gift of their platelets. More often than not, the lively conversation continues well after their donations are completed, either at the center’s refreshment area or out at a local restaurant.
Sarah, Jillian, and Dawn represent what giving back is all about. Together, this trio are not just contributing to their community, they’re helping create it. They’re a true band of heroes.
Sister Damien Hinderer
Hoxworth Blood Center
A calling to care
Most donors have a personal reason for giving. From the beginning, Sister Damien Hinderer's has been centered in her faith. “I pray for all the people I donate for, even though I don't know who they are,” she says. “Some place along the line, they need prayers. You care for them even though you don't know them. You know that you're helping them in some small way, maybe some large way.”
Sister Damien has been donating twice a month for close to 60 years. In 1960, she made her first donation to help a sister who had a bleeding ulcer. “They asked those of us who were novices here if we wanted to go over and I said, ‘Yeah, I will.’ That was my first donation, and I've been giving ever since.”
She donates triple platelets every visit, which equates to 72 lifesaving units of platelets a year. Just recently, Sister Damien was recognized for reaching the 80-gallon donation mark. When asked about her milestone donation, she smiled and said, “This vein belongs to Hoxworth,” but it really belongs to all those who have benefited from her calling to care.
James R. Kuhlmann
The Donor Center at Roswell Park
Buffalo, New York
Setting a world record
For James (Jim) R. Kuhlmann, it began in 1970, when his dad was unable to keep his donation appointment. Jim went in his place and that began a nearly 50-year streak of donating platelets. “Donating was easy and I felt so good knowing I was helping someone right in my community,” he says.
Several years ago, Jim contacted the Guinness World Records to see if he might qualify for a world record. It took some time, but he did. For his total donations on record through April 2017, Jim qualified and is the current record holder in the category of most donated blood-apheresis (platelets).
“Being the world record holder is exciting, but what’s really important is knowing I’m able to help patients in need,” he says.
Today, Jim continues to donate every two weeks—either in Buffalo, New York, or between golf games in Florida, where he lives during the winter. He’s an easy-going, funny, intelligent, and determined man, who regularly encourages others to donate.
“We all make time for what’s important to us,” Jim says, “but do we make time for what’s important to others? Nothing is more important than helping someone fight for their life.”
On what began as a typical summer day on June 1, 2011, Dawn Marisch found herself in an extraordinary—and life-threatening—situation. Dawn was the principal at an elementary school and her students were rehearsing for “concert day” when Dawn suddenly suffered an aneurysm. She was treated by first responders and rushed to the hospital where she had four surgeries and received a remarkable 90 units of blood, platelets and plasma over the following four days.
“It wouldn’t have mattered how great the physicians were if we didn’t have the blood that I needed,” she says. “It was very humbling to realize how many people—how many everyday heroes—it took to save my life.”
Now a blood donor herself, Dawn is grateful for her chance to save others. As an O-negative donor—the universal blood type used in emergencies like the one she experienced—Dawn understands the impact of just one donation, not just for patients, but for their families as well. To anyone considering donation, she says “it truly is a life-saving gift.”
LifeServe Blood Center
Des Moines, Iowa
A sense of duty
After 23 years in the Army, and 30 years working for city of Clive, Iowa, Steve Pringle decided to retire. Retirement didn’t mean relaxation, though. Steve found a new way to serve—as a blood donor and center volunteer.
Steve first became involved with the volunteer blood donor program during his military career. He knew first-hand the importance of blood donation from his tours in Vietnam. He happily donates whatever blood component is needed most on any given day -- whole blood, double red cells, platelets, or plasma. He’s donated more than 63 gallons, according to LifeServe in Des Moines.
He’s also logged 4,000 volunteer hours at the center, more than anyone else in the organization during his tenure, touching almost every department with his generosity. Steve is best known for his work as a driver, transporting blood to hospitals for transfusion or to the lab for processing and delivering supplies to our various locations—always at the least desirable times and over the longest distances.
What drives Steve to serve others with such selflessness, day in and day out? His answer is simple: “I enjoy the people, so it doesn’t feel like work at all.”
OneBlood – Tampa Kennedy
Inspiring a community
Jamie Stembridge doesn’t do anything halfway. Whether it’s making the most of the outdoors—camping, fishing, or four-wheeling—spending quality time with friends, family and her two pups, or advocating for those in need.
Jamie was a committee member of the non-profit Hooked on Hope, which helps breast cancer patients with financial issues during treatment, when she heard about Natalie, a local patient in need of platelets. She joined Natalie’s cause, stepping up to become a directed donor.
When she learned that Natalie would need more than Jamie could give, she turned to social media. Jamie’s plea went viral, and the center quickly had more than 70 directed donations. Many were from people who, like Jamie, had never donated before.
With all their generosity, and a successful bone marrow transplant, Natalie was soon able to make her own platelets. And the enthusiasm Jamie inspired has continued—the donors she brought in for Natalie still support the center today. Jamie didn’t just help increase donations; she helped build a stronger community.
Marqus and Ashley Valentine
Elevating the voices of sickle cell
Diagnosed with sickle cell anemia at 6 months old, Marqus Valentine spent countless weeks of his childhood in the hospital. He has endured strokes, acute chest syndrome, sepsis, and chronic pain. He had to repeat grades, because he missed so much school.
Doctors said Marqus might not live past 10 years of age. Today he is 36, thanks to blood donations and the assistance of friends and family. He was also named a Blood Services Hero by the American Red Cross Chicago Region.
Marqus’s younger sister, Ashley, who spent her early years in hospital playrooms while Marqus recovered, saw first-hand how few resources were available to people with sickle cell. Ashley now holds a master’s degree in Research Methods, and advocates for improved health care coverage and treatment for sickle cell patients.
Marqus and Ashley have created a not-for-profit organization called Sick Cells, which “seeks to elevate the voices of the sickle cell disease community and their stories of resilience.” Using the power of film and storytelling, Sick Cells highlights the disparities around sickle cell through personal experiences. As a result, Marqus and his supporters are influencing decision-makers and making a difference for families.
City of Hope Donor Center
Walking alongside those who save lives
When Scott Zechiel was 16 he was raced to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. During the procedure he lost so much blood, he needed six transfusions.
Scott is now a 54-year-old software engineer and a passionate blood donor. For the past 14 years he’s been thanking those who helped him by giving back. Commuting from Orange County to Duarte every two weeks, Scott has made 332 donations so far and is looking forward to his 350-donations milestone. And he’s gone one step further, registering with the “Be the Match” registry for potential bone marrow donors.
He tells everybody that he lives for his donation days, “because I just enjoy them so much.” That joy shines through—Scott’s positive attitude, dedication, smile, and enthusiasm bring something special to the center every time he’s there. As a thank you he was invited on his center’s Rose Parade float. Scott was characteristically humbled by the experience, saying, “It was just the ultimate, to be alongside all these wonderful people—doctors, nurses, and such—who work to save lives every day.”