"You never realize the importance of blood donations until someone you love needs it," says Jackie Huntsman. In 2016, Jackie’s husband Ted was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), which prevents his body from producing red and white blood cells, as well as platelets, the component which enables blood to clot. For the past seven months, Ted has needed transfusions every two to three weeks. "His life has depended on the grace of God, along with blood transfusions" says Jackie.

Ted Huntsman is a Barnesville native, Vietnam veteran, and was an avid outdoorsman before he got sick. He is a member of the St. Clairsville Church of Christ and has devoted much of his life to serving God. For many years, Ted donated blood at the annual Barnesville Blood Bash, which is a student-run community blood drive organized by Barnesville High School for the past 34 years. This extraordinarily successful event has helped save about 39,000 people’s lives – almost 10 times the village’s population.

The 35th Blood Bash is scheduled for Friday, May 4 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Huntsman family has already been spreading the word and signing up donors for this year’s Bash. Ted’s grandchildren, Drew and Kennedy are students at the high school – as Ted battles the blood cancer, the family is experiencing firsthand how crucial those blood donations are to saving lives.

Jackie said her regular trips with Ted to get transfusions have further opened her eyes to the constant and great need for blood. "It’s unreal the amount of people who are there who need blood and how much they need. You don’t realize the importance of donating blood until you go through something like this."

Jill Strauss, Ted’s daughter, began promoting the Blood Bash on social media months ago, urging people to register to donate. In recognition of Ted’s love of game hunting, the family created T-shirts inspired by the logos Ted used when he made his turkey calls. The T-shirts proclaim "It’s always blood donor season. Bring ‘em on in!" Anyone who registered under Drew or Kennedy’s name by April 1 will receive a free T-shirt the day of the event. If you register under Drew or Kennedy’s name after April 1st, you will receive a T-shirt after the Blood Bash. Shirts can also be purchased with proceeds going to 3C’s, a local cancer support group.

"Everyone asks how they can help when something like this happens, so we’re asking people to help by donating blood. We wouldn’t have my dad here without the help of blood donors," says Jill.

The four Huntsman children – Bill, Chadd, Jason, and Jill - attended Barnesville High School and participated in the Blood Bash. Ted has eight grandchildren, three of which have graduated from Barnesville and the remaining five attend Barnesville schools. Chadd was also diagnosed with cancer right before his father and is currently in remission; he also needed blood transfusions during his treatments, although nowhere near as much as Ted.

When Jill gave blood as a teenager, she never realized how much her simple donation could mean to someone. "We just want everyone to know how important blood donations are. It’s often the difference between life and death. My dad wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for all the blood transfusions he’s received," she said.

To schedule an appointment to donate at the Blood Bash, contact Jill Crosier at 740-425-3617 ext. 5235, or via email at jill.crosier@bevsd.org . In addition to donating whole blood, people are also asked to donate platelets and plasma to help provide area patients with the blood components they need for their specific treatment.

Donors can also register through centralbloodbank.org or the Central Blood Bank mobile apps. Save time by completing the required health history through Central Blood Bank’s DonorPass, also on the website. The FDA requires that the online health history questionnaire be completed on the same day as your donation (beginning at 12:01 a.m.).

To donate whole blood, you must be at least 18 years old (16-and 17-years-old with signed parental consent form) and weigh at least 110 pounds. More information and online registration at centralbloodbank.org/barnesville-blood-bash.