Bill Hoff and Bill Whitcher have been friends for more than 35 years. It was during a visit to the Rock River Valley Blood Center (RRVBC) when Bill Hoff noticed his friend’s name on the Milestone Donor List, which recognizes donors who reach gallon donation milestones. Before, neither realized that the other was a lifelong blood donor. Both men had been donating blood for many years and were both approaching the 20-gallon mark.
“At first, we planned to have a competition on who could get to 20 gallons first,” Hoff recalls. “But then we decided we wanted to get there together.”
On Wednesday, July 13, they did just that. The lifelong friends donated blood at the RRVBC’s new Longwood Donor Center to reach the 20-gallon mark together. It also happens to be the first time the two gave blood together.
Bill Hoff has been fortunate to be very healthy and he wants to use his health to help others. He started donating when he was in college in upstate New York. When he moved to Rockford in 1984, he recalls hearing a story on the radio about a local celebrity who had a work accident and needed blood.
“I remember there was a specific plea for B positive blood which is what I am. I knew only about 8% of the population had that same type, so I drove to the Blood Center right away that evening and donated.”
He has tried to donate every eight weeks since he started giving. He stays motivated not only because it’s such as easy thing to do to help others, but also because he knows people close to him that needed blood. More recently his friend’s wife received around 70 blood transfusions while going through cancer treatment for leukemia.
“My goal is to get on the last page of that Milestone list,” he shares. “I think you have to be at 23 gallons, so I have three to go.”
Bill Whitcher began donating blood in 1978 while a principal of an Episcopal high school in Minneapolis, a school that held a daily chapel.
“Our pastor had the bright idea to hold a blood drive and to kick it off asked me to donate on ‘stage’ so to speak,” he shares.
He did and recalled the drive was a huge success.
When he moved to Rockford, he was introduced to the RRVBC. Like his friend, Bill Hoff, he too tries to keep a regular schedule and donate blood every eight weeks.
When asked why he donates blood, he poses the question “why not?”
“It is such a simple procedure taking very little time and it does a world of good,” he says. “Hospitals have an ongoing need for blood in the normal course of operation. I was reminded of this earlier this week when I received an email from an old collegiate fraternity friend who lives in Highland Park and was requesting blood donations to help the hospital there as they cared for the shooting victims.”
Bill said he probably initially decided to donate blood because his mother and mother-in-law were nurses and his father-in-law was a surgeon, so he understood the importance. He passed his dedication for blood donation down to his four sons who all donate and are just as competitive as he is.
“And besides, where can you get fresh popcorn and Oreos for about an hour of service,” he jokes.
Be Like the Bills
Regular donors like the Bills are the life blood (no pun intended) of the Blood Center. If everyone who donates once would become more regular blood donors, even donating twice a year, blood shortages would be a thing of the past. Join them and schedule your donation today.