WEST MILTON – Former students of Milton-Union High School Principal “Big Ed” Lendenski say he never failed to remember their face and greet them by name. Many remembered him by donating in his honor at the ninth annual Ed Lendenski Memorial Blood Drive hosted by the West Milton Lions Club on Sept. 9 at West Milton United Church of Christ.
Community Blood Center is in critical need of donors due to the challenges of the COVID-19 and the long Labor Day weekend. The memorial blood drive totaled 70 donors including 47 whole blood donations and seven platelet donors.
Ed Lendenski served Milton-Union as a coach, athletic director, and MUHS principal for 23 years. His wife Carolyn and family began the memorial blood drive in 2012 after losing him to the bone marrow disorder myelodysplastic syndrome. The blood drive honors donors for the multiple transfusions he received during his treatment.
“He would just be amazed!” Carolyn said about the blood drive celebrating its ninth year. “He was a wonderful man. He loved his kids and he loved the teachers.”
The ninth annual blood drive came with necessary changes to protect against COVID-19, including social distancing and wearing face masks. Even with face coverings, Carolyn was quick to recognized old friends and former students, including 1979 Milton Union graduate Mike Hines.
“He’s probably the best principal West Milton ever had,” said Hines, who made his 47th lifetime donation Wednesday. “It didn’t matter when you graduated, if he saw you, he called you by your name.”
Ed came to Milton Union in 1963 as a teacher and head coach of basketball, baseball, and assistant coach of football. In 1968 he was surprised to be offered the job of principal — “You only get asked to move up once,” he told Carolyn, “you can always move down,” — and retired in 1991.
Mike believes Ed would still remember him if he could seem him today, despite his long beard, face mask, and the multiple scars from a motorcycle accident that nearly clamed his life in 2011.
“I nearly lost a leg,” Hines said. “They talked about taking it off, but I had a great doctor who said he could save it. I shattered my arm and pelvis. I got nine units of blood and four platelets after my accident.”
After recovering, Mike was inspired to begin donating. He made his first lifetime donation at the first Ed Lendenski Memorial Blood Drive at Transfiguration Catholic Church in 2012.
“I said, all the times I’ve talked about it through the years, it’s time to do something.”
“I think of when Ed was going through treatment,” Carolyn Lendenski said. “Without all that blood, he would not have survived as long as he did.”
Donors are required to provide a photo ID that includes their full name. Past CBC donors are also asked to bring their CBC donor ID card. Donors must be at least 17 years of age (16 years old with parental consent: form available at www.givingblood.org or at CBC branch & blood drive locations), weigh a minimum of 110 pounds (you may have to weigh more, depending on your height), and be in good physical health. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) changes blood donor eligibility guidelines periodically. Individuals with eligibility questions are invited to email email@example.com. Make an appointment at www.DonorTime.com or call (937) 461-3220.