For the Weekly Record Herald
WEST MILTON — “Big Ed” Lendenski would never let hurdles like bad weather or vehicle break-downs get in the way of success for his students at Milton-Union High School, on or off the field. It was in that same spirit that Ed’s wife Carolyn rolled up her sleeve Monday, Aug. 17 in support of the 4th annual Ed Lendenski Memorial Blood Drive.
“I’ve tried to donate and my hemoglobin is always too low,” Carolyn said after making her first lifetime donation. “I thought why don’t I go out there on the bus and give it a try? I did it and I feel great!”
Carolyn and blood drive coordinator Bob Menker were a little worried at the start of the blood drive. Community Blood Center (CBC) traditionally sets up in the community room of West Milton’s Transfiguration Catholic Church, but there was a mechanical problem with the truck transporting the equipment. The new plan called for sending the CBC Bloodmobile.
Next a heavy downpour began just as the blood drive got underway at 3 p.m. That caused a worry about donors dashing through the rain to the Bloodmobile. As it turned out, neither problem discouraged donors. A total of 28 people registered, resulting in 25 donations for 104 percent of the collection goal.
“I was coming home, saw it and thought I’d pop in,” said West Milton donor Doug Fetters. Monday marked his 96th lifetime donation, but it was his first chance to donate in honor of Big Ed. “He was my principal, I graduated in ’81,” he said. “He was a great guy. He always put the students first. He cared about the kids. The way he treated everybody – he treated you fairly. If you got in trouble, you got in trouble. But he was a really good guy.”
Annette Butts, who made her first donation at the blood drive, had similar memories of Ed. “I was in school when he was the principal,” she said. “He was a nice man, very likeable.”
Ed died in 2012 from myelodysplastic syndrome, a bone marrow disorder that causes severe anemia. His treatment included many blood transfusions. The Lendenski family began the memorial blood drive as a way to thank and honor blood donors who helped extend his life. Ed’s son Eddie, who started donating in support of his dad, made his 23rd lifetime donation Monday.
Every Ed Lendenski Memorial Blood Drive includes a new generation of donors, those too young to remember Ed, but who share a dedication to their school and community. A good example is 2015 Milton-Union High School graduate Anna August who made her 3rd lifetime donation at Monday’s blood drive.
At first, Anna was deferred from donating at her high school blood drives because of a medication. She qualified for the CBC Red Cord Honor Program because of the times she had registered at the blood drives, but she wanted to actually donate. Her father talked proudly about how Anna asked her doctor for a note explaining that despite the medication, she should be able to donate. It meant she was able to donate twice before graduating. “You talk about determination,” he said. “She was so proud to wear that Red Cord.”