News Releases


January 27, 2022

DAYTON, Ohio - In a time of challenges and setbacks, Kettering donor Kathleen "Katie" Ellis remains a pioneer. Year after year she takes her ranking as Community Blood Center's top female donor to new heights. On Jan. 27 she became the first woman, and only the fifth CBC donor overall, to reach 600 lifetime donations.

"Life goes on," said Katie, who turned 74 in December.  Throughout the pandemic she kept her commitment to donating platelets twice per month for an average of 24 donations per year. In April she lost her husband of 51 years Bob "The Wiz" Ellis, the iconic Alter High soccer coach for 37 years. Katie coached the men's reserve team for 16 years, plus softball and golf.

"He always said, 'Ask Katie - she'll give you her blood!" laughed Katie. "I was scheduled to do my 600th next month, but I thought, 'Why not do it during January Blood Donor Month.'"

It was Katie's goal in 2017 to reach 500 donations before her 70th birthday.  Since then she has done less coaching, but more babysitting for her growing number of grandkids. She still volunteers as a starter and ranger at Community Golf Course and come April will get back to playing a weekly round with the Community Women's League.

"I'm busy," she said. "I volunteer at the boys' basketball games, sell tickets for soccer and volleyball, play golf and watch the grandchildren. I donate when I'm not babysitting!"

Katie grew up in Kettering in a family of nine children and became a pediatric nurse at Kettering Hospital. Her mother Gwynedd Armstrong encouraged her to donate with her in 1969 and Katie began donating platelets in 1976.

 "You've had every kind of award we've ever given," said CBC Director of Clinical Operations Kay Ollech, who presented Katie with a flower arrangement in honor of her milestone donation.  "Kay and I have been all over this building," said Katie.

"It was always fun when Katie came," Kay said of the early years of CBC's automated platelet and plasma donation program. "It was a small group, a small area, you stayed the whole time with the donor, and we interacted with each other. They got to know you."

"Oh, try to come out and give," was Katie's message on her milestone donation day. "If you've got the time, its only an hour and a half out of your day. If you can help somebody - one person! - it's going to be really good. You're going to feel good knowing you helped somebody else. It's like your good deed of the day. Why not?"