ENGLEWOOD, Ohio - It's a fitting testimony to former Englewood Police officer Bill Davenport that the third annual Bill Davenport Memorial Blood Drive Thursday, July 31 at the Englewood Government Center reached across generations as it celebrated the bonds between old friends, neighbors, and co-workers in the common cause of helping others through blood donations.
Bill served the Englewood community for nearly 38 years in law enforcement and passed away in 2011 after a 10-year battle with blood cancer. His son Brett has led the family's effort to honor Bill's memory by sponsoring an annual Community Blood Center (CBC) blood drive, coupled with a raffle to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).
Brett is a firefighter (formerly with the Xenia Fire Department and now with Kettering) and the drive traditionally draws support from colleagues in police, fire and emergency services work. His brother Cory and sister Angela England helped rally support with their July 29th appearance on WDTN-TV's Living Dayton show. Their mom Joann Davenport welcomed donors, sold raffle tickets and their custom-made t-shirts with a police badge design while her grandchildren played under the table.
Brett's goal was to fill the schedule with at least 60 appointments. By the end of the four-hour blood drive 63 people had registered to donate, including nine first-time donors, resulting in 49 blood donations.
"We had at least 14 walk-ins, and that's just great," Brett said about non-scheduled donors who helped make the blood drive a success. "Every year we just try to figure out a better way to grow."
Much of the support comes from neighbors helping neighbors. "She's my neighbor," said John O'Leary, who chatted with Angela while he donated. "This is my third time, I wouldn't miss it, or she'd get on me!"
Brett personally thanked his former colleagues at the Xenia Fire Department for donating. "We had a pamphlet up in the station," said Daniel Smith. "It's a little bit of a trek to get over here," added Travis Dill, "but it's a good cause."
The blood drive is founded on old friendships built over the decades by Bill Davenport's dedication to the community. But it is also providing an opportunity to welcome a new generation of donors.
Brett's neighbor Cyrena Sharp is a senior at Northmont High School. Her donation Thursday will help her qualify for the CBC Red Cord Honor Program by the time she graduates. Like Cyrena, Carroll High School senior Mackenzie also made her second lifetime donation Thursday, and will qualify for the Red Cord the next time she registers to donate during her senior year.
Though it was a challenge, Mackenzie inspired her mother Joy to make her first lifetime donation. "I sat here and waited on her and watched her donate, and then I decided," said Joy. "I couldn't let her outdo me!"
The Davenports take a similar approach to the blood drive inspired by their dad's dedication to public safety. The third annual Bill Davenport Memorial Blood Drive was a success, but their goal will be to outdo their efforts next year.