FAIRBORN, Ohio -The Thursday, June 26 "Battle of the Badges Blood Drive" at the Fairborn American Legion post pitted firefighters from Fairborn and Wright Patterson Air Force Base against Fairborn cops, with blood donors deciding who gets bragging rights. But for some, casting that vote was just too tough a call.
"I can't decide," said Holli Burns after making her 11th lifetime donation with Community Blood Center (CBC). Keep in mind Holli had it easy choosing a blue Coban arm bandage after donating to match her green blouse and plaid purse. Picking a double chocolate chip cookie in the Donor Café was a no-brainer. Did she like the tropical "Donoritaville" Parrot Head t-shirt? Sure, that got a nod. But voting one badge over another? "I like them both!" she said.
Holli wasn't the only donor who just couldn't choose sides. Nearly a dozen donors abstained, and that mattered in a vote that was close as it gets. Fairborn Police won by a single vote, edging the fighter 18 to 17. A total of 46 people registered, including three first-time donors, resulting in 37 donations for 106% of the collection goal.
The firefighters went away with bragging rights last year, but Fairborn Fire Lt. Matt Kochensparger had a feeling it might be tough to repeat. "We didn't seem to be doing well early on," he said. "We sent out press releases and emails and got more signed up and we were grateful for that. Just so we get the donors - that's all that matters. Seems like summer time is when the blood supply is most critical."
Quentin Dobson was one of those donors who had to pause and think about how to vote. He's a rising senior at Fairborn High School who will be playing quarterback on the football team in the fall. "I guess I'll vote for police because my bowling coach is a police sergeant," he said.
Quentin's coach is Sgt. Paul Hicks, the father of his football teammate Michael Hicks. Michael made his milestone 5th lifetime blood donation at the blood drive then went to work in the Donor Café helping fellow volunteer Katelyn Gruber. There was no doubt that his vote would go to the Fairborn Police Department, where he also volunteers.
"I've helped out filing reports, the police and fire softball game, all these events," he said. "I just do what they ask me and lend a helping hand." He has the same attitude about donating. "It's an easy and good thing to do," he said. Michael has already committed to joining the Army after graduation where he will train with the Military Police, and hopes for a career in federal law enforcement.
Michelle Perron made her milestone 5th lifetime donation Thursday and her vote went to the Fairborn Fire Department. "Because I live in Fairborn and we had a fire a couple of years ago, so I dealt with them," she said. "Plus, I like firemen! So does my son - he's 10!"
But casting vote in the Battle of the Badges is never easy. Nila Kaempf made her 12th lifetime donation at the blood drive after a long morning in Columbus where she member of the state board for the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill. She is an advocate for the Crisis Intervention Teamprogram, to improve emergency response to people experiencing a mental health crisis.
Crisis intervention training is equally important to police and EMT's. "I support all public safety officers," she said. But she had to choose. When she did, her vote went to the police. You might call it the winning vote.