John Schenk is ‘big time’ blood donor
John Schenk, who lives in St. Cloud, walked into the Springfield Area Community Center in his hometown the afternoon of Monday, June 18, to take part in a Red Cross blood drive. This trip was a little more special than previous ones.
For the 272nd time, Schenk stretched out his left arm and gave a unit of blood. With this donation, Schenk hit the 34-gallon mark, the latest milestone in a lifetime filled with dedication to the Red Cross and its mission.
Want to match Schenk’s giving history? It won’t be easy. Red Cross rules say donors can only give once every 56 days. That means donors can give just over six times a year. To reach the 34-gallon mark like Schenk, a donor would have to consistently donate for just a bit over 45 years.
Schenk’s sister, Jean Kitzmann of Sioux City, Iowa, drove to Springfield to recognize her brother as he qualified for his Red Cross 34-Gallon Pin. “I just wanted to be here when he did that,” Jean said. She was inspired, too, to roll up her sleeve and give blood.
Schenk is a 1969 graduate of Springfield High School, attended Alexandria Technical Institute for two years, served in the U.S. Air Force for four years, and then moved to St. Cloud where he was employed as a computer programmer for Fingerhut catalog/online retailer.
Schenk, 66, now retired, also served 10 years on the American Red Cross Blood Service Board.
He was influenced by his parents, Walter and Dorothy Schenk, who were frequent blood donors. Schenk also remembers the advice of high school teacher Alvin Gisvold, who suggested to students to give blood when they reached the age to do so.
Schenk has been donating blood since age 18 and says he has contributed blood “pretty much every 56 days, or shortly thereafter.”
He’s glad to be healthy and able to contribute. “As long as I stay healthy I’ll keep giving blood,” Schenk concluded.