Archive for September, 2010

Monday, 13Sep10, Eureka, CA, Northern CA Comm Blood Bank

Monday, September 13th, 2010

What an incredible finish to an unbelievable summer … and … it finished in the same town and blood center that it all started in … back in 1995! (Eureka, California!)

Thank you, Tom Schallert, ABC, FABC, and all the ABC “members” who participated in Life Across America 2010. You are awesome!

Thank you to all the donors I met on this trip.

Thank you to all the participating blood centers awe-inspiring staff … you are all AWESOME!

Thank you to the ABC (Washington DC crew) … Matt, Abbey, Mack, Jim and many others who did an incredible job of keeping track of everything that was going on this summer … you are amazing!

Thank you to my friend, Jennifer Shoffner, who was our volunteer “publicist” not only for this year … but … for all the other years (behind the scenes) where she did an amazing job of co-ordinating dates, days, stops and emails.  Jen, you are one incredible lady, thanks for all you did and continue to do! (And for being a life-saving “donor” all during those years!)

Thank you to Lauren Larsen and Jeff Larsen who were directly and indirectly responsible for the amazing FABC … Public Service Announcement … to both of you and Jeff’s film crew … thanks for everything!

To all the CEO’s of the participating ABC blood centers throughout the U.S. that invited LAA 2010 to visit your centers , I want you to know how wonderful it was to see your dreams of expansion, etc. come true … as you continue to expand your efforts to make sure there is a safe and available blood supply for generations to come!

To the memory of “Jenny Eller” … your story touched my life more than you’ll ever know … and … to her father, Dean Eller, CEO of the Central CA Blood Center in Fresno, CA … I only want to say … “Keep the Faith” … and … “you are definitely on the right track”!

To my wonderful wife, Gail, thank you for believing in me … and … for carrying me when I couldn’t carry myself!  You are an amazing lady and I love you more than you’ll ever know!

To my children … thanks for being patient with me and understanding that blood donors are really a part of my life and yours!

To Jim McPhearson and Tom Schallert … thank you for believing in me … when noone else did!

To all those who followed this blog and Facebook pictures … thanks for giving me some of your positive energy and helping me to keep going when the going got tough!  I couldn’t have done it without you!

To all the donors who I had the honor and privelege to meet over the summer … I want to borrow a phrase from Jenny Eller … “thank you for letting us live!”

Until we meet again

Larry F. (Giving blood is the one gift that truly comes from your heart!”)

Sunday,12Sep10, REST DAY, driving from Eugene to Eureka, CA

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Blood fact: “Four easy steps to donate blood: medical history, quick physical, donation, and snacks.” (Not bad, eh?)

Today was a beautiful day … and a beautiful drive from Eugene to Eureka … I had forgotten how gorgeous Southern OR and Northern CA really are! They have astonishing mountains and vistas … unbelievably awe-inspiring! I met up with a couple of ABB alumni staff at the Golden Bear statute! (Mike Munk from 2008) I’m… now at the beautiful Carter Inn House on L Street in Eureka. (thank you to NCCBB and Jen Shoffner)

It was a long drive today (320 miles) yet it was beautiful and worth it!  Talk to you later.

Saturday, 11Sep10, Eugene, OR, Lane Memorial Blood Bank

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

Blood Fact:  “What does 46.5 gallons mean to you? 46.5 gallons is the amount of blood you could donate if you begin donating at age 17 and donate every 56 days … until you reach 79 years old!”

Today I am in Eugene, OR, (after a 520 mile drive yesterday) from Stockton, CA. Not sure if it could get any better … yet … it always does! Today was INCREDIBLE … check out the photos of the ped/bike bridge dedication. Special thanks to Doug (Exec DIR) Marshall, Cathie, Chelsie, who did all the legwork to make this such a success! Thanks to all the donors and all the awe-inspiring staff… you are AMAZING!

Today was incredible … I was invited to participate in a bridge dedication (for pedestrian and bicyle traffice) over a freeway in Eugene, OR. (I was interviewed by Channel 13 TV news, a really nice guy!)

Lots of fun to be there and be a part of a huge community event like that!

Afterwards we went to Lane Memorial Blood Bank and I visited with several donors and many of the LMBB staff … it was very enjoyable and we had a blast!

This evening there is a barbeque celebration for the LMBB blood donors at a local winery!

Then I’ll get a good night’s rest and get ready for the drive tomorrow to NCCBB in Eureka … almost there!

Friday, 10Sep10, Eugene, OR, Lane Memorial Blood Bank

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Blood fact: “If only 1 more percent of all Americans would give blood, blood shortages would disappear for the foreseeable future.”

Today I am in Stockton, CA, at Delta Blood Bank. It was an awesome day and we had a blast … especially last night at dinner with Annie and Lisbeth … I want to thank Dr. Spindler and all of his amazing staff who are daily helping to save lives! You are all AWESOME!

Also to thank Cat Country 93.0 FM for all they did today to promote the upcoming blood drives at Delta Blood Center.

After finishing the promotion in Stockton … I drove 520 miles up to Eugene, OR, while passing through Sacramento I called the hotel to make sure it was OK to come in late … they said “yes” and so I thought everything was OK … however, when I got there at 10:30 p.m., they had given the room away … and, it was a hassle to finally get a room … this is the first time on this trip that I’ve had a problem with a reservation and confirmation.  Thank you to Eddie (the night manager) who did his best to straighten it out for me … at least I ended up with a room on the 2nd floor with no elevator. (Hmmm, I guess that confirms the saying “opposition in all things”?)

Well, this is the land of the “DUCKS”  the Oregon Ducks that is … so it’s a big party place with lots of college kids yelling and screaming for their favorite team!

Tomorrow is going to be a busy day … hopefully I can get a couple of hours of sleep?

Thursday, 9Sep10, Lemoore NAS and Fresno, CA, Central CA blood centers

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Blood fact: ” If all the current blood donors gave three times a year, blood shortages would be a rare event (the current average is about 2 times per year.)

Today I’m at Lemoore, CA, at the Lemoore Naval Air Station. (right at home with lots of Marines and Sailors who are donating blood.)

Afterwards Heidi drove to the new Jenny Eller Blood Center Bldg (her father is Dean Eller, the CEO), I followed Heidi to Fresno in my truck.

Thanks to Dean for the amazing history lesson about the blood center … and … for sharing the incredible story of his daughter, Jenny’s life and her struggle with leukemia … she was one amazing young lady!

To Jenny, Dean, Heidi, Chris, Karen, Cassie, Melanie, Robert, Frank, Patty, Ylda, Mao, Mia, and the rest of the amazing, incredible staff at Fresno, thank you for all that you do to save lives! Also to SSgt John Ecker, and Captain Soto … thank you to his Marines and Sailors … who gave blood today! You are awesome!  

After uploading the pix to Facebook … I then drove to Stockton … and checked in with Annie and ??? … and they took me out to dinner to a nice Italian restaurant across the street from the blood center.

Getting ready for another exciting day at the Delta blood center in Stockton.

Wednesday, 8Sep10, Bakersfield, CA, Houchin Blood Center

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Blood fact: “Blood centers often run short of types O and type B red blood cells, because there is no substitue for human blood.

On the way to Bakersfield from San Diego … as we crossed over the “Grapevine” Hwy … I did a phone radio interview with Ralph Bailey from KNZR in Bakersfield … it was a lot of fun.

Today I am in Bakersfield, CA, and it has been an awesome day meeting with Houchin Blood Centers incredible donors and staff. A big thank you to Gregg (CEO), Maureen, Mayor Hall, Bakersfield PD, Chief Williamson, and his motor squads.

It was a really nice surprise to look across the donor room and see a very familiar face, Mr. Greg Funk, a family friend, who grew up with my children and now lives in Bakersfield …  had moved up his donor date a couple of days so he could donate when I was visiting his blood center.  Therefore a special thank you to Greg … Thanks Greg, you are awesome … just like your mom and dad!

What a fun day!  We had a memorial bicycle ride with some local cyclists.  The local motorcycle officers were there and “escorted” us through some very heavy cross traffic.

First thing in the day, we also went to a radio interview at KERN radio  in their studio and had a blast talking with Scott Cox, radio 1180.

Then we met with Mayor Harvey Hall at the Brighthouse Amphitheatre on Riverwalk Park … then the cyclists rode on the KERN bike  path back to the Houchin blood centers with the motors squad escorting us!  Whoopee!  Check out the pix on Facebook!

Bakersfield COP, Greg Williamson … was present a the ceremony and spoke briefly … then Greg G (CEO) and myself were interviewed by the local TV stations and another local radio station.

I then spent the rest of the day … visiting with, greeting and thanking the local blood donors and blood center staff … (many of the donors were local police officers (a group of the Gang unit guys)  I was honored to be with each of them … Thanks!

Getting ready for tomorrow’s blood drive at the Naval Air Station in Lemoore, CA … and … when that is over … I’ll drive to Fresno to see their brand new donor center …

After that I’ll drive to Stockton to get ready for the Delta Blood Center’s blood drive the next day!

Tuesday, 7Sep10, San Diego, CA, San Diego Blood Bank

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

 Today I was in San Diego at the SD Blood Bank … A special “thank you” for Ramona(CEO), Doc (CMO), Lynn, Jose, Nancy, Jenny, Larry(Volunteer Extraordnaire), and many other amazing staff, donors, and volunteers that I met today … each one of you our outstanding “heroes” in your community! Thank YOU!

It was a fun time and I want to thank the staff at SD Blood Bank who were so friendly and welcoming … you are AWESOME!

To Larry (the volunteer) you are an incredible man … an amazing volunteer and you made the stop in San Diego well worth it!  Larry Thank YOU!

Afterwards I drove from San Diego to Bakersfield … made it through all of the LA traffic with only a few “glitches”. 

Now here getting ready for a fun day tomorrow!

Monday, 6Sep10, REST DAY, San Diego, CA

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Well the day started out early enough … on the road from Thousand Oaks, CA, I drove to San Diego … and arrived in San Diego early enough to have some down time.

Today was a REST DAY! In San Diego, I took a bicycle ride for a couple of hours and did a surprise “drop in” at the SD Blood Bank.  

I met 3 wonderful staff who were very friendly! I want to say a special “Thank You” to Nancy, Sam, and Jenny for making me feel so  ”welcome”!

After that visit to SDBB … I rode my bicycle over to the “Midway” and met LCommander Ralph and Getrude Sage, Ralph thank you for your many years of Naval service, and to Gertrude … I want to  thank you for taking care of Ralph for 59 years!  Wow!

It was amazing to listen to Lt Commander Sage speak about his experiences while serving in the Navy (he sure knows the history of the Naval battles) … however … I had a lot of fun talking to Gertrude (who was sitting in a chair at the back of the crowd gathered around listening to her husband of 59 years!) 

I said to her … “you look like you’ve heard this talk a few times before?”  She laughed and we started up a conversation about how they always do everything together, however, her legs hurt if she stands up there with him.  She said that when he’s done they’ll go out for a beer and then dinner afterwards.  … So I decided to wait for a break in his talk … to take a picture with him and her … (check out the photos on Facebook)

While I was waiting for Ralph to finish his talk, I rode over to the “huge” statute of the sailor kissing a beautiful girl to take a picture next to it and a couple came up … so I asked if they could take a picture for me … he said “yes” and he did …  then his wife noticed that we both has the same kind of “leg scars”, so we took a picture of “our scars”! 

So a great big “Thank You” to George Stears (who is a survivor also) … who said he had family who lived in Santa Rosa, CA! (Small world, eh?)

I was able to talk to Jon Gunderson today (Jon is a fellow cross country challenge cyclist from Phase 1) he might be able to visit with me tomorrow at the SD Blood Bank …

Also I was able to hook up with Doug Reinhardt and his wife (Doug is the ride along who was with me the night of my accident and actually saved my life … if he hadn’t been there … I would have bled to death, before anyone else could have gotten to me.) 

While I’m thanking people … A special thank you to Jen Shoffner, was has been volunteering as the LAA 2010 publicist and decided that it would be a good thing to spend a week with me on the road and on the front lines at the blood centers from Albuquerque, NM, to Bakersfield … she has done a wonderful job of “tying the loose ends together” for all the blood centers PR/Marketing staff!  She also was very involved in Ability Across California 1995, and Life Across America 1996! Thank you, Jen!

I’m now getting ready for a blood drive tomorrow at the SD Blood Bank … and, then afterwards,  I will be driving up to Bakersfield to try to stay ahead of the curve … so let me count how many days/stops are left?

San Diego, Bakersfield, (NAS Lemoore and Fresno), Stockton, Eugene, OR, and Eureka, CA.

So I’m seeing 6 days plus a rest day or two in the middle … but, who is counting, eh?

Sunday, 5Sep10, San Luis Obispo, CA, UBS(United Blood Services) Central Coast

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

Today I was in San Luis Obispo, CA, at the United Blood Services Central Coast blood center having a enjoyable time being of service to the SLO community by greeting and thanking their blood donors … also cycling with several of their local SLO cyclists!

Wow! I keep saying this … every day I think it can’t get any better … yet it does! Today I am in San Luis Obispo and at the UBS Central Coast Blood Center … what incredible staff they have here … and their donors are beyond amazing … I love them!

I also want to say thank you to Vicki Finson(CEO), Mona, Janna, Paul, Mark, Martha, Chris, Ginger, and the rest of their amazing staff … a BIG thank you for all you do to save lives!

Today they coordinated a “donor appreciation” day … and a 10 mile bicycle ride with the local SLO cyclists … I was invited to ride along and it was a lot of fun … to be with cyclists who afterward … donated their time and their blood to help save lives … check out the pix on Facebook … I think you’ll agree that everyone was having a good time … giving back to their local SLO community.

Thank you to UBS and “thank you” to Chris … the TV reporter from Channel 12 News KCOY … for stopping by to do a story about promoting the awareness of the need for BLOOD.

Afterwards I drove down to Thousand Oaks … to spend the night here and then drive to San Diego first thing tomorrow morning … getting ready for their blood drive on Tuesday, 7Sep10.

Saturday, 4Sep10, San Bernardino, CA, LifeStream

Saturday, September 4th, 2010

Another incredible day on the road … this time we stopped to visit the LifeStream blood Center in San Bernardino, CA.

It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed meeting, thanking and talking with the many donors who were there giving the “gift of life”.

The staff I met were some of the friendliest, open hearted people I’ve met on the trip so far … a special mention to Mary Grace who was the first person to greet us as we came into their blood center.  Mary thank you so much for your warm friendly greeting and the big  “welcome to LifeStream” smile … you are AWESOME!

A special thank you to Dr. Rick Axelrod, Piper Close, Don Escalante for the very warm and informative tour of their facility … what a wonderful place to work (way to go staff) and an even more relaxed place to “give blood” … it was an awe-inspiring tour as I looked at the decorations … the incredible pictures of past recipients … and … felt the warm atmosphere created by Dr Axelrod and his top notch staff … thank you to each of them for the wonderful job they do on a daily basis … you ROCK!

To each of the donor that I met today … you are HEROES … you are AWESOME … and do amazing things to help save blood recipient’s lives and with some warm, kind, generous attitudes!

Don’t forget the “giving blood saves live” … yet … it also “saves families” … as 3 of my children will confirm (if asked) since they were born after “the accident” …

I am so happy to be alive … and … to be able to associate with such incredible, kind, giving people … what an awe-inspiring segment of America you are … THANK YOU!

After the visit at LifeStream … came to “uninspiring” part of the day … driving on Hiway 101 up to San Luis Obispo.  Don’t get me wrong it was a beautiful drive along California’s awesome coast … yet I was stuck in Labor Day traffic … OUCH!

Yet  I made it and I’m now in San Luis Obispo in a beautiful, quaint INN … so all’s well … looking forward to meeting the UBS staff and donors at their Central Coast facility tomorrow!  Talk to you later!